...and I am very happy there.

...and I am very happy there.

Friday, December 10, 2010

O Christmas Tree!

Replacement trees that will grow for years to come.
Earlier this week we went and cut down our Christmas Tree. We have been doing this for years. I always wanted to do this when I was a kid. You would think living on 75 acres of land we would be able to find one pine worthy of the role, but either the snow was too deep or we ran out of time. And believe me most trees that grow in the wild do not look as classy as the trees you find in the tree farms. They do trim them to grow that way or trim them just before the buying season starts so you will think they grow that way.

I do remember as a kid being dragged from lot to lot trying to find a reasonably priced tree (was Mom looking for a bargain?) the week of Christmas. I remember thinking, "why do we have to go out on THE COLDEST day of the year and get a tree at the last minute, when all the lots are cleared out of good trees???" Maybe it was because money was tight and we lived paycheck to paycheck. Whatever, it was not the romantic tree hunting expedition I saw on television or read about in books. (Thinking Little House on the Prairie here).

As I look back on old Christmas pictures from when I was growing up, the trees are pretty pathetic. (My sister's tell me there was one year that dad tied two trees together!!) But the only memories I carry are the decorating on Christmas Eve with either Christmas music on the HiFi or from Lawrence Welk on TV. I remember "singing along with Mitch Miller" but usually that was after the tree was decorated so I could follow along with the music book that came with album.

Why we decorated on Christmas Eve I never knew, today I cannot even imagine squeezing that in to our routine.

One Grandma and one grandson ready to go!
When my own kids were old enough to enjoy the thrill of picking out a tree, we would all pile into the van and go on our way to a local tree farm to find THE PERFECT TREE. On the way to and from the farms, we would play our favorite Christmas music. This always included Gene Autry's Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer album which was a favorite growing up and soon became my kids' favorite. Irreverent though it may be (sorry Jess) it started us off on our celebration which culminated in recognition of Christ's birth.

The one for us.
They all look good, but only one can be THE ONE!
When my nephew was a young boy, he and his father went out to cut a tree from the ones we had planted years before on the land we owned in West Shokan. That was as close to the romanticized picture I had at the time. What took away from that picture was the cigarette hanging out of my brother's mouth as he led the expedition and then cut the tree.

Dad gives a lesson in saws.
Let the cutting begin!

That is until years later, when I took my own grandson and went on the hunt for a tree. After many years of scoping out different farms and comparing prices, I settled on a nice farm on the Ulster/Greene county line. I loved the idea that these folks were common folks just trying to make a little extra money. (Greene county is one of the poorest in our state.) I also loved the idea that NY city dwellers hadn't "discovered" this hideaway and ruined its pureness. I also loved the "green" idea of always replanting new trees for subsequent years. It was a bit more expensive than buying a precut tree, but it lasted so much longer and made it worth the price.

So one year, I took my son and his son to the farm to search, cut and load up the perfect Christmas tree. They were staying at the Jollies (Jess' parents) so we met at the farm. On our drives to the farm it started to snow. PERFECT! When we arrived, because it was early we were the only ones on the lot - PERFECT! Bryan took the camera and started shooting. Eventually we picked a tree and as he cut, I shot the photos. The tree was beautiful. A memory was made. The romantic tape in my head was almost completely realized. (A roaring fire and hot chocolate with the rest of the family would have made it perfect.)

Nowadays, its mostly just Jim and I that head to the farm to pick and cut a tree. It's not quite the same without the kids, but it gives me a sliver of nostalgia that I would like to hold on to. We don't have the Christmas music on the CD in the truck as we head out, because we are usually reminiscing about the "old days" and when we get home it's Chai Tea Latte instead of Hot Chocolate. No, we are not stuffy, elitists -- we just like Chai better than the chocolaty stuff. If the kids ever join us again they will have a choice!

Oh, and for those that get their shorts in a tizzy about what a tree represents, get over it. We look to the tree (especially a living tree) to draw us closer to the Light of the World. It still is the one time of year, when most of the world is at least thinking about the Christ child and may ask the question, "What child is this?" and the gospel message goes out once again. Yes, I too hope we look beyond the trees, the gifts and the food to see the Truth of the Christmas holiday...that unto us a child is born, and he shall be called the The King of Kings! See Luke 2:1-20 in the Bible (yes, it's probably that dust covered book buried in your bookcase somewhere. If you don't have one, contact me and I'll see about getting you one for free.)