Every year some time after Thanksgiving, our family drives over a mountain along winding roads to get to one particular Christmas tree farm. In wind, snow, sleet, or rain we still make the trek in the search for the one perfect tree.
This year we went on Black Friday shortly after they opened and enjoyed this view on a rare warm late November day.
My husband is never content to settle for the trees near the parking lot, nor can we ever purchase a pre-cut tree. We must walk all over the property because the perfect tree just might be over the next hill. At least it was a beautiful day for a hike this year. There have been times that our lips were blue and our teeth were chattering as we followed Hubby over hill and dale.
The younger ones always choose the perfect Charlie Brown Christmas tree first because those are what are closest to the parking lot. Not sure what they would charge us for one of those.
When we think we've finally found just the one, we test the size by having my nearly six-foot tall husband reach toward the top. I can't tell you how many years we have gotten a tree home only to find it necessary to trim off another foot or two if we want to display it indoors.
Then it must pass my inspection. I admit there have been bitterly cold years when I agreed to the first one our family found just to get back in the warm SUV. I tree shop the way I shop for everything else: when I see something I like, I buy it. No need to worry about what I'm missing around the next corner because I've already found what I want.
The ceremonial cutting-of-the-tree comes next, usually delegated to the oldest or most able-bodied male in the household. Even though PawPaw was along this year and is quite able-bodied, this task was still accomplished by Hubby. He would rather kneel/lie in the cold, wet grass than pay someone else to do it for us.
This year I added the extra step of slicing off a bit of the trunk because I saw something cute on Pinterest that I wanted to try. You'll see more about that later this week, but I'll let you know now that this (surprisingly) became one of my Pinterest success stories.
After rolling off the cart several times, the men finally drug it to the building where the owners put it in some kind of machine that shakes off all the loose pine needles and wraps it with twine. That is also where there is free hot cocoa waiting for the kiddos and all kinds of homemade Christmas decorations and sweets to purchase. Since I've been making some of my own ornaments this year, and we still had another pumpkin pie waiting for us at home, I limited my spending to the tree.
Bound tightly to the top of the family vehicle, we were ready to head back over the mountain toward home. No problems this year. There have been years we've had to stop several times to secure the tree on top again. One year it rolled off our minivan when a deer ran right in front of us. This is usually a bad omen because I believe it was that same tree that was so heavy, it fell over and crashed in our living room in the middle of the night, just missing our sleeping beagle. This happened not once, but twice, and the crashes decimated a number of our ornaments.
Once home and upright in the tree stand, it was greeted by our youngest daughter and her MeeMaw, who couldn't come with us due to a mysterious viral rash that our little one had.
Unbound and ready to decorate, I had new plans for the tree this year, thanks to a burst of creative energy and inspirations from Pinterest, of course.
After stringing the lights, the men were banned from the room as we women tried to figure out the best way to wrap plaid burlap ribbon around this tree. As you will see, they were peeking around the corner to snap a gazillion photos of us, many of which were far too unflattering to share with you dear readers. You'll thank me later.
After much deliberation, re-draping, cutting and piecing together because two spools of burlap ribbon were not enough, paper clipping the ends to branches, and a glass or two of white wine, we were finally satisfied. Every burlap/plaid ball and handmade plaid ribboned pinecone were placed strategically on the tree over the course of about an hour.
That part was finally done, and we broke for a lunch of what else, but leftover Thanksgiving dinner.
Then I opened the huge box of the hodge podge of Christmas ornaments accumulated over several decades, and told the kiddos they could have at it. Sadly, the only one who was enthusiastic about hanging ornaments was our six-year old who even brought out all our Christmas music CDs to listen to while she trimmed the tree. Her older siblings had to be nudged and prodded to put even a few on the branches. Are they already losing their Christmas spirit? It makes me want to cry.
Much later in the day when the huge empty box was put back in the attic, Hubby completed his final task by placing the grapevine star on the top of the tree. This, of course, required a little bit of advice from his wife and mother so that it was situated properly.
I'm so glad I still have one child who marvels over a freshly cut, trimmed, newly-lit Christmas tree.
I was finally able to relax with another glass of wine and just enjoy the beginning of this joyful season. Lest you think I make a habit of cropping out my children in photos, I was forced to do so by a certain 13 year old girl.
After gazing at the finished tree for awhile though, it seemed like the tree leaned to the left noticeably. This bothered my perfectionist nature since I was sure that this year we had the perfect tree. I was able to straighten it in this photo with editing software, but the real thing is definitely slanted, probably because it grew on a hill. I should have thought of that when we were out there on that tree farm.
As ridiculous as it sounds, this slanting bothered me quite a bit...until I saw our little girl under the tree yesterday. In her Santa hat with Christmas music in the background, she was playing with the plastic nativity set that she insisted on putting out under the tree again this year. She had arranged it herself, and the angels were flying and singing, the shepherds and wisemen were adoring the baby Jesus, and she glowed with the spirit of Christmas...even with her viral rash. And I sighed as I realized just how perfect this family Christmas tree really is.
May your hearts and homes be filled with hope, joy, and peace this Advent season.