o christmas tree…

As Christmas for our family winds to an exhausting yet happy close, I sit in my living room admiring our tree. This year, it is smaller than in years past but it is no less beautiful. I look at it loaded with lights and ornaments and am reminded of all that they represent. We have handmade ornaments from the girls through the years, some that we got as wedding gifts, ornaments handed down by our parents and grandparents…a random smattering of the Donovan 5 Family History. Lovely.

Our trip to commandeer the family tree was a little pitiful this year. We went to the scout lot but their selection was short in supply and even shorter in stature (we are always happy to support the scouts so don’t start down that road). We made the best of it, soldiering on as we do and to be honest, I am glad for our less than perfect tree. It serves as a reminder that life is what you make of it, good or bad. We brought our tree home and dressed it up. Lovely again.

As we have lived all over creation we have had several different kinds of tree acquisition experiences. The big box home improvement store parking lot, a typical “tree lot” just down the street, a local farm where you cut your own, etc. One year in Florida, it had been raining for days so the tree stood in the driveway until the rain stopped and the tree dried out. In New York, the tree trunk was coated with ice so we had to wait for that to melt before we could put on lights and decorate.
The first big step in our family tree journey was the discovery that 4/5 of us are allergic to pine trees. Every year of my childhood, we would traipse into the woods and cut a huge scrub pine for our tree. I thought it was the prettiest kind so that’s what we sought out in the beginning of our marriage. It is also available as a cut-your-own option in Alabama. We found a sweet tree farm just outside of Birmingham called Beavers Tree Farm and began the tradition of taking our children to cut down the family tree. We moved to Franklin, TN and tested out a few tree farms but were not able to find a favorite spot. Regardless, the fourth year in a row that Robert and the children were sick at Christmas, it occurred to us that maybe pine wasn’t our friend. Thereby began the Frasier Fir Era. This is what Robert grew up with and he was very pleased that we made the switch.

Since Frasier Firs prefer colder temperatures, we had to give up the cut-your-own ideal for a while and hit the tree lots. Then we moved to New York. Our second Christmas in New York, we discovered Granger’s Tree Farm in Mexico, NY. There was a good amount of snow on the ground so we suited up and headed to Mexico. A short drive later, we would encounter the best tree expedition one could ever imagine. We boarded an old wagon and rode through the farm out to fields of Frasier Firs, just waiting to be chosen. We were given a measuring pole, a saw and a sled. The girls pulled each other in the sled and we singled out our living room centerpiece. The tree got a ride on the sled as the snow began to fall. After another turn on the wagon we had hot chocolate and fed baby goats in the barn. Writing it down now, it sounds so juvenile and simplistic. Let me assure you that it was nothing short of magical. All of the parts fell into place. One thing about heavy snow is the quiet. The snow acts as a giant quilt blocking out any extra noise. So much so that you can hear the fat flakes land. There is only the crunch of boots and occasional giggle or sigh. Riding on the wagon through the blanketed farm was so peaceful and calming. It was reminiscent of the candlelight service we attend every Christmas Eve.┬áIn that moment, all was right with us. No worries, fears or cares. Just being in the moment. Together. We talk about it every Christmas. It will never be recreated or re-experienced. An extraordinary gift.

We waited 3 days for the ice to melt off the trunk of our beautiful tree. It was worth every second.

If you haven’t packed up your decorations, take a moment…a quiet moment…and soak it all in.

I hope you had a Merry Christmas. Peace to you all for 2019.

 

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