Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Christmas Trees

On Sunday we decorated for Christmas, and now the house has that festive vibe and a faint smell of pine. George spent the day following us from room to room as we unpacked boxes and climbed up and down ladders, and he finally fell asleep under the table during dinner because he didn’t get his usual afternoon nap.

I hadn’t planned on buying a real tree this year. Tired of the same decorations going in the same spot every year, I thought I would just make do with the small fake tree we usually put in the dining room. But at Home Depot on Sunday morning I had to walk past the area where all the trees were displayed and employees were cutting and wrapping trees, where families were picking out the perfect one to tie onto their car and take home.

It was the smell that got me - that sharp pine smell that suddenly made it feel like Christmas and put a warm, cozy feeling in my belly.

So I bought a tree in Home Depot. A small one that we put upstairs on a table in our TV room to be different this year. It’s short and fat and fun, and we covered it only with the ornaments we’ve bought when we’ve traveled, to make it personal and different.

Picking out a tree has to be at the top of my list of favorite holiday activities. It was always fun to go with Mom to the tree lot in the freezing cold and pick out just the right one. When I was little, my Grandma used to cut down a tree from the woods behind their house – usually a cedar whose branches were so flimsy that they would fall over like Charlie Brown’s tree when we hung anything on it. And before I was born, my Mom once used a tumbleweed as a Christmas tree, when she lived in New Mexico.

When our schedules cooperate, my husband and I go to Utah with our friends to get a tree from the forest there. And it is so much fun – her whole family piles into several trucks and we drive forever on bumpy unpaved roads to the location that her dad has scoped out already. And we walk, freezing, spreading out through the trees, searching for the perfect one. The great thing is that no one is rushed. No one gets impatient when I need to walk 100 yards back to the tree I saw before, just to see if it is better. They understand the fun of the hunt. And when everyone has their perfect tree, we throw them into the back of their pickups and head back to her parents’ house for hot soup and to warm up by the fire.

Tonight my husband and I will have our annual tradition of sitting by the Christmas tree after it’s decorated, with only the tree lit, and we’ll listen to Bing Crosby, sip eggnog, and sit and enjoy the calm of cold December night. I hope you all can find some quiet time by the tree, too.

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