The only Christmas trees we have ever had in our house were cut in the woods out back. They always look bushier in the wild than inside. My husband, gracious man that he is, says he likes our trees because they do not block the light or view of the mountains from our living room window. I like them because they are natural, and because the annual expeditions into the woods with dogs, children, neighbors and handsaws, are always fun.
Each year I proclaim, “This tree is the best we’ve ever had.” Even though the boughs bend down at the tips under the weight of our ornaments, we still are proud. Visitors make snide comments like: “Nice Charlie Brown Tree” or “Where did you find that, at the dump?” I do not mind. They are just jealous.
This year I had hoped to recycle a blow-down from that freaky November blizzard, which blew the tops off so many of our firs. Alas, those blow-downs not only were looking dry, but also the branches had warped in weird directions from being on the ground so long. We had to find two trees, one for us and one for the neighbors. About a half-mile in we found the first one and quickly cut it, sending it home through the woods with the three boys (wondering if either the tree or the boys would make it in one piece). The second took more careful searching — a big beauty, tall and bushy. It was so big it required three adults to haul it out of the woods and load it onto our truck for delivery next door.
Today, I took the decorations and lights off our tree and put them away until next year. Handling each handmade ornament as I wrapped them and tucked them back into a box brought back memories of my children when they were little. My oldest son hopes to go away to school next year. Will he miss the annual hunt for a tree? Will I want to go out in the woods without him? No, we will wait until he gets home. This tree — green, sweet-smelling, natural and flawed like all of us — represents life, rebirth and hope. The adventure in the woods to find it is our family tradition.