Selecting A Tree Brings Christmas Joy To Family

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I put my Christmas tree up early this year. 

Nov. 1 to be exact. This is the earliest I’ve ever decorated for Christmas. It was pretty out of character for me. I’ve been a strict no-tree-until-after-Thanksgiving gal for years. But then again, this isn’t a normal year is it?

With everything going on around us, I just felt like I needed some extra joy in my house. And to me, there was no better way to achieve that then putting up the tree. 

I can’t quite explain the power of the Christmas tree, it’s more like a feeling. 

Each year when I put up my Christmas tree I’m transported back to my childhood where I piled into my dad’s 1988 Silverado single cab truck with my two sisters and we headed to the local Christmas tree farm to cut down our family’s tree.  

As you can imagine, choosing the perfect tree in which all three of us girls agreed was always an ordeal.  Almost every year, at least one of us wasn’t appropriately dressed for the weather. (When I say one of us, let’s basically assume it was always me). I don’t think we ever got out of the tree farm under three hours. It was a lot of walking. Like, a lot. 

We had a system we followed, each year it was just one sister’s turn to choose the tree. Despite the opinions of the other two (and they were plenty) that sister alone got the final say. My dad’s patience was somehow never ending, like he had all the time in the world to give to us, and he would laugh and follow us around for hours until it was finally time for him to crawl under our prized pick and cut it down.  

Afterwards, we’d scurry back to the barn with frozen feet and grab hot chocolates and watch the guys lug our tree into the shaker and bail it with twine.  Exhausted but happy, we’d all squeeze back into the truck and drive home to find our mom at the front door, the vacuum cleaner ready for the mess of needles with Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra already playing on cassette tape. (Other cassette tapes we owned included Elvis and the Beach Boys, it was a pretty diverse and random collection.) 

You always knew which sister’s year it was by the tree that stood in our living room.  If my oldest sister, Jessie, chose the tree that year it was perfectly symmetrical. She would hunt and hunt until she found the most perfect tree down to the last needle. 

If my middle sister, Dora, chose the tree that year it was huge. Our dad would always tell her it was too big and she would insist we get it anyway. We would struggle to get it inside, and hold our breath when it was time to remove the netting where it was very much like that scene in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation where Clark cuts the twine and the branches crash through the windows. 

If I chose the tree, it was always too short, like me. I wanted to be sure I could reach the top so I could place the star. 

We did this for years, until we were all grown and out of the house. I’ll never forget that last year. My sisters were married with babies of their own, and I was the last sister left in my parent’s nest. Finally, with extra room in the truck, my mom was able to go with us. The three of us walked around for a short while and ended up choosing a pre-cut tree from the barn. It was the end of an era, I had officially graduated from my childhood. 

To this day, when I smell a fresh cut Christmas tree I instantly think of all of those precious years spent at the Christmas tree farm. When I see a really beautiful tree, I’m always reminded of my sister Jessie. When they put the tree up in Rockefeller Center I always laugh and think of my sister Dora and how that would finally be a tree big enough for her. 

So, I put up my Christmas tree early this year. I needed those sweet memories. I needed those reminders of time spent with my loved ones, of years and years of magical moments we were unknowingly collecting for Christmases to come. I needed that extra joy to carry me through this exceptionally hard year. 

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