On Saturday we went as a family to go cut a Christmas tree. It's a tradition of ours that started with our very first Christmas when James and I had been married for only a few months. We started it then because we both REALLY wanted a real Christmas tree, but knew we could not afford to go buy one. We had heard of people cutting their own trees in the National Forest, but didn't know much about it. We found out that a permit only costs $5. That was in our budget!
We bought a permit, got a map, and headed out to the woods. I have to admit that I didn't really enjoy our time spent getting a tree. It was so nice to spend time with my new husband, but I was cold, and pregnant, and not feeling completely great. We found what we thought would be a perfect tree and managed to get it home strapped to the top of our little old car. When we got it all set up in our apartment it looked funny. I mean funny in a comical and strange sort of way. It was not what we had pictured. But it was what we had. Our decorations were pretty meager as well. We bought one box of small colored glass balls and one strand of colored lights. It just wasn't enough, so we sat down together at our little dining table and made some simple star ornaments out of construction paper and glitter. I think we made 20 or so. Now, 10 years later, I only have one left, and it is faded and misshapen. But it is one of my most treasured ornaments.
That funny looking tree of ours really grew on us. It smelled good. It still had pretty pine cones attached to it. And it was ours. Somehow it made us feel more like a family and not just two people who were blissfully learning a whole lot about each other.
Our next Christmas was quite different. We had a new baby, a new job, and a new home. Since we had so much, we decided to go buy a nice tree at a regular tree lot in town. The cheapest one there was $40. We bought it and took it home. Within just a couple of days it was dropping pine needles like crazy! We found needles everywhere! We were still finding and cleaning up needles from that tree by the time the next Christmas came around. We cut our own tree that year. And have every year since. Well, really James has. Because of babies and small children, I've almost always managed to get out of going to cut the tree. Until this year. James and the kids really wanted me to go, and I knew that Little Man would love the experience, so I said I would go. I wasn't really looking forward to it. But the day came, and I went. I had a good time. A really good time. Things didn't quite go as smoothly as planned. But it was OK! At one point we were all crammed into our Jeep driving through the snow trying to get to the place that the map said was designated for cutting Christmas trees. All of a sudden we came to a dead end. The road we were on did not connect to the one we wanted to be on like it looked like on the map. The kids were starting to ask, "When are we going to stop?" We didn't know. Little Man said, "Out? Out?" I explained to him that we were going to go find a tree to cut down. He looked out the window, pointed and very excitedly yelled, "Tree!" We were in the middle of the forest surrounded by trees. Why should we not stop right there and get one of these trees? He is a smart kid, that one. On we went, slowly working our way back to the main road so that we could go to a completely different area. The snow on the trees was very beautiful. And we were going slow enough (about 10mph) that we actually had time to look a little closer at things as we drove by. We were all squished against each other, but no one was complaining about it. We were warm and munching on the snack we had brought along. I was so content! So happy to have my most favorite people that close to me. I told them so. I felt so good, that I just had to sing. I sang one fun Christmas song after the next. I mostly sang by myself, everyone else was busy eating, but every now and then one or two would sing a little bit with me. It was wonderful! We did finally get our tree and it still looks a little funny. But we love it. And I am very much looking forward to being able to go cut a tree next year!