“What are you doing the rest of the afternoon?” asked the sweet guy working the counter at D.S.W.
“We’re going Urban Christmas Tree Hunting ” I replied.
“You mean like in a field?” he asked.
“No. Like at Home Depot.”
We exchanged a laugh and my mom and I walked out of the store setting out to meet Dylan. We had to go pick out her Christmas tree for the season. Urban tree hunt we did. It took about twenty minutes for the whole excursion. Traveled to the store, tree selected, he put that sucker on the roof and drove it back to her house.
Dylan and I took a different approach as two of our friends asked if we wanted to cut down a tree. Like in a forest. It’s Colorado ya’ll. We haven’t gone the fresh, outdoor route since before we got married.
As our friend drove us up the canyon, memories flooded back. Growing up I had years and years of hunting for the perfect tree in the woods with my cousins and particular mother. It was tradition. Four kids and two adults – sometimes more – would pack into the trusty Subaru the day after Thanksgiving. Shooting for a ten am departure time usually turned into leaving at one or two pm. Us kids would fight for the spots in the back of the car where we didn’t have to wear a seat belt. Our caravan bounced along dirt roads. Wearing our matching sweaters, we’d yell cheers and balance on top of each other as the driver rounded the canyon corners to avoid the axes and saws at our feet.
Safe. Yes, safe.
Some years the sun would be setting by the time we got the darn tree to the ground. Other years we’d trek back to the car and retrace our steps because keys were lost. Cold and whining because we couldn’t find the damn car. On the dark drive home sometimes the tree would sway in the wind and scratch glass as it slowly slid down over the front windshield.
“Pull over Dad” my brother and I would yell, “the tree is sliding again!”
And then some years, when we’d get home, the tree would rest on the ground in the doorway, boughs shaking as Dad frantically sawed off the extra six inches…. or extra feet… off the bottom grumbling as he went. Mom often underestimated the pine’s height out there under the big blue sky.
Wonderful memories. Floods of nostalgia and love with the realization that my memories of Dad are turning the corner from anguish and stomach aches to tickles inside my heart.
He did that with us. I remember.
We drove two hours to the National Forest land where we spent $10 for a tree permit and a refreshing hike in the snow.
Let me clarify – the barely two inches of snow and sixty degree weather made the experience pretty enjoyable. Much better than my snow suit days. We spent thirty minutes searching and sawing and threw our selection into the bed of a pick-up truck.
We brought our tree home, and only cut a few inches off the end of our little tannenbaum. Dylan strung the lights and I selected my favorite mis-matching ornaments and we decorated the house. It was cozy. And it was good.
And then, on Monday, we went to work.
And Olive went to work.
While we were away, she chewed a few ornaments and destroyed three strings of lights. We came home to the tree skirt fluff creating snow in our living room, and the water in the tree stand gone. Luckily, our Charlie Brown decoration was still standing.
So our idyllic tree hunting experience has become beautifully imperfect. A memory in the making as I built a child-like fort barricade to keep her from our lightless tree.
It’s pretty charming to have a tree in your living room without decorations. Well, we’ve got ornaments on the top half of the tree, and a new shining star gleams proudly in front of the coffee table that blocks the access from our ambitious puppy.
Maybe I’ll look back in a few years and say, “Remember when Olive destroyed the decorations on the tree?”
A ha ha – we will laugh – as she will have certainly outgrown her puppy phase by then.
Tonight, we are going to try again and string some more lights on the tree.
I’ll be sure to hide the plug and tighten up my makeshift fort. I sprayed the tree skirt with puppy safe citrus deterrent and put her water bowl back on the floor. I breath deeply at work remembering I’m thirty minutes away from our house and can’t do a single thing once I’ve left.
I’ll let you know how long Lights-Phase Two lasts. Say a silent prayer for our hopeful decoration.
No matter how you select your Christmas tree this year, may the memories you make be beautiful.
P.S. – The Give Light Giveaway is open. I’m accepting submissions from now until December 31st. Be sure to send me your light! Details on how to enter here.