There are so many traditions in my family surrounding the Christmas tree. I remember every year on the farm, going as a family to find the perfect tree. We’d tie our sleds to the tractor and wagon for a ride through the fields towards the forest at the back of the property. Even though there were hundreds of trees to pick from we always seemed to pick one that looked amazing outside but upon erecting it in the house, it turned out to be a Charlie Brown tree. Ok, maybe not that bad but thinking back, I smile. As we got a little older, we could invite friends to partake in the fun. My Mom would bring hot chocolate and my Dad would start a small brush fire to roast hotdogs and keep warm. The tree quality never did improve, even with more eyes during the selection process. Once again, my parents reinforced a love for the outdoors.
While my daughter and I live in a city, we travel a short distance to a rural tree farm every December. With saw in hand, we jump on a wagon and ride out to cut down our tree. This year seemed very reminiscent of my childhood as we brought a couple of friends and our dog along for the fun. The girls didn’t pick the tallest or the bushiest or the most symmetrical tree. They picked our perfect Christmas tree.
The next day we trimmed the tree. To set the mood we first warm spiced apple cider on the stove, ignite scented candles and listen to Christmas carols. Trimming the tree is an event brimming with our own family traditions. On the first Christmas in our home together, my late wife and I bought a new ornament. It was the beginning of our lifetime together. That tradition continued each year. As we trimmed the tree every Christmas, we would add the ornaments in the same chronological order. We would reminisce about the life events and memories associated with each of them. It is a tradition my daughter and I continued this December, adding the 19th yearly ornament. She loves the stories associated with all of them. I adore the festive season but I again was torn between gleeful anticipation and somber reflection. So much of life is bittersweet. Fondly celebrating traditions and memories while continuing to create new ones.
Peace and Love