Wednesday, December 8, 2010

a noble endeavor

Oh, Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree!

Each year, the day or two following Thanksgiving, we bundle up and head into the wilds to find the perfect Christmas tree with which we might adorn our little abode for the holidays.  This year we found no reason to not do the same- even though we had much more snow than usual.  No, we were not about to be deterred! 

We usually plan the day with most of my siblings and their families, but this year they were all party poopers (okay, maybe they were just busy), and so it was just us and the every fun-lovin' Shawn, Kelsey, and Grams. 

We didn't get away too early.  In fact, it was almost two o'clock in the afternoon by the time we headed out.  (Mistake #1).  We (as in my little bunch- Shawn was much more prepared) didn't take a truck, because we don't own one big enough for all of our kiddos (Mistake #2). 

We stopped to get our permits and then headed for the hills.  Usually we don't have much more than a skiff of snow, and so the girls were all thrilled with our prospects of tree hunting in a winter wonderland.  It sounds so much more festive, don't you think? 

After approximately one-hundred-and-three "are-we-there-yet's", we started spotting some holiday worthy specimens.  We even pulled over and marked the snow to remind us where a few better looking ones were standing, deciding to keep looking just to make sure.  After all, who wants to cut the very first one you see? Besides, I always know which tree is the right one when I hear angels singing at the sight of it.  Always.   After years of tree hunting, I have found that I never hear angels until we have hiked all over the mountain first.  Let's face it, there's nothing romantic about grabbing the first tree you see, chopping it down, throwing it in the truck, and heading home.  It's all about communing with nature, you see.

Waiting to hear angels, we headed further up the mountain.  Before long, the snow became much deeper.  Our trusty suburban was holding it's own, but just about the time Courtney spoke aloud, "I don't know how much further we should go" we slid off the road and into the deep snow.  What is worse, underneath the snow was ice. There was no getting back on the road for us!  Shawn, of course, couldn't resist laughing and suggesting that it might be better if I could try hearing angels about a mile back. 

In an effort to pass us so he could pull us out, Shawn tried to drive up and around.  However, as soon as he tried, he too slid off the road, barely missing us.  Not wanting to stop and get stuck as we had done, he gunned it and headed down through the drifts, engines roaring and snow flying everywhere.  Fortunately, after a very impressive performance, he made it back up to the slippery road.   All the while the girls were hooting and hollering, "AWESOME!  That was totally wicked!"  Claire, hearing the girl's approval of his driving skills, started yelling, "AWESOME!  Shawn is totally NAKED!" 

We are nothing if not exciting. 

After a dozen tries, Shawn was finally able to pull us out, after which we decided the safest route (for us, anyway) was to back slowly down the mountain.  (Turning around was not an option.)  And so it was that we backed about two miles down the mountain, all the while listening to Claire sing, "Shawn is naked!  Shawn is totally naked!" 

Finally, we got a place where we could safely turn around- right where we had found our first possibilities!  Because it was getting dark by this point, Shawn, Kelsey, and I decided to quickly hike around for a bit and see what we could see.  We did find a few options (don't let him fool you, I am convinced that Shawn is even more picky than I when it comes to finding the perfect tree), we found that all the trees were somewhat yellow-ish and we chickened out after all. 

And so it was that we headed the rest of the way out in the dark, tree-less and laden with unhappy girls.  Eventually we convinced them that we would get a tree, just not on this particular day!  Besides, we reasoned, this adventure would go down in the books as one of the most memorable tree hunting excursions so far!  We all stopped off to have dinner (looking a bit like a bunch of soggy loggers, I might add), and called it a day.  An unsuccessful tree hunting day, but a fun day nevertheless. 

A week later, we were determined to try it again.  However, after a little bit of research and a pow-wow with Shawn, we reluctantly agreed that there was just too darn much snow this year.  In order to get to where we wanted to go, we would need several more snowmobiles than we could round up and the logistics just didn't make it seem feasible.  Going against our grain, we decided to buy one.  Upon announcing this to the girls, their hair stood on end as they shrieked, "What!!!!!  We are going to buy our Christmas tree?!!!!!!"  Really, you would have though we'd committed murder. 

Eventually, we did find our tree.  A noble fir.  And you  know what?  As soon as I saw it, I heard angels singing.  Really!  In a tree lot.  In town.  First tree I saw.  (The wonder if it all never ceases to amaze me.)

Despite the girls' initial disappointment, they were quite happy with our find.  It is beautiful, just the right height, and fills our home with a glorious smell.  Sunday night we filled up every branch with lights and shiny ornaments of every kind.  Nothing matches.  In fact, our noble fir looks homemade and happy, just the way we like it.   

As the girls were scrambling for ornaments and Christmas music blaring, the chaos seemed much too much (to us old folks anyway).  However, I had to smile as I heard Kate sigh and pronounce, "This is paradise."

Happy girls, a beautiful tree, and twinkling lights..  I love the memories that are shared as favorite ornaments are rediscovered, admired, and remembered.  It's not fancy, but our tree, our noble fir, tells our story.  I wouldn't want it any way. 

I agree, Kate.  Paradise, indeed.

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