Cutting down a Christmas tree on our property started out of sheer necessity, a lack of funds ruling the day. Over the last few years however it has become a cherished family tradition full of adventure. So much so Lisa, Chris and the girls thought this year they’d get their tree here too. It seemed like a good idea, have a day out in the country and save some money. Team Donaldson piled in the car and came out Santa hat and saw in tow.
Henry wasn't feeling well so he stayed behind while the rest of use walked around surveying trees. Up the hills and down the hills, around the pond and over the log we hiked looking up at trees. None seemed to do.
“I don't know. I always love the trees at your house they look so Martha Stewart. Why can’t we find one of those?” Quinn wondered as she scrutinized the cedars.
“Mine did look like these, it’s just that you don’t mind it looking goofy and unkempt at my house.” I said.
“How about that one?” Phoebe suggested from underneath her powder pink parka.
“Honey that one is bigger than my house,” I informed her.
“Yeah right! I could see us putting that on the top of the car!” Quinn laughed. “It’s taller than the barn!” Phoebe stomped off down the hill.
“That’s not Martha Stewart that’s Charlie Brown,” Lisa responded dryly.
In the end, they found the perfect tree in the Lowes™ parking lot.
The trees on our land are not Christmas trees per se. They are a bit spindly and straggly. The cords for the lights and look a bit unseemly and the branches sometimes can't hold some of the he heavier ornaments. They look old fashioned and homemade. I guess perfect depends on your perspective.
When Henry felt better, we went out with Alexis and the dogs in search of our tree. We had wanted to get it when Tom was here, but we'd worked on the gingerbread competition until the last moments before Tom had to race to the airport. No matter, he likes whatever we pick. He’s easy like that.
About a year’s worth of rain had fallen in the last few days so the pond, the pasture and all the streams are flooded. Undaunted and bundled up we headed out. Henry and Alexis both came armed saws. I think it’s a male thing. We meandered around looking at the pond and all that had washed away. Henry and Irish jumped endlessly over puddles and streams. And eventually we walked the same path I had with Team Donaldson
I guess beauty is in the eye of the beholder because before long we earmarked three or four serious contenders. True I have taller ceilings in some of my rooms, but this year we were going to try and put the tree at Alexis’ suggestion in the living room for more viewing pleasure and it works - thematically next to my Santa collection.
In short order we unanimously agreed on a tree and with out much fuss Henry sawed it down and we made our way back to the house over the hill and through the woods, the boys carrying the tree.
The excursion seemed to go off without a hitch. It was so easy compared to the last three years. We didn't run the tractor in a ditch or have to run from the goats. We simply put the tree in the old mudroom to dry out. Nothing too dramatic.
I got out the lights and located the stand. Alexis went to work and Henry set upon writing his book. Ferreting through the garage I found the chandelier crystals I’d bought years ago with my Tom in a small antique store in Stillwater, Minnesota. We’d had a delicious lunch in the sun overlooking the St. Croix River. "Winter is cold for those with no warm memries" I murmured dusting off some of my other favorite glass ornaments and looking for hooks. What happens to the hooks? I am forever buying hooks. I could see the tree in my minds-eye. I love all the trappings, the stockings the baking the wrapping and even the shopping when I have the money.
On Monday, I decided I’d put the tree up and surprise everyone. Worrying it was way too tall for the pink room I decided to put it up in the game room and see how it looked before trying to work with it in the more crowded living room. Sawing off a teency bit of trunk I put the tree in the stand and tightened it up. Unceremoniously it toppled over onto the popcorn machine. One of the little rubber do-dads had come off and as a result had left a little wiggle room. I took the trunk round I’d just sawed off and used it as a wedge. A perfect fit. The tree stood straight and tall. Stepping over dogs and cats like minefields Feeling like the grinch trying to take a tree up a chimney, I shoved it past the dining room table, refrigerator, kitchen counter and through the hall the branches tipping all the picture frames along the way. Once I found just the right spot in the corner by the window, setting off the sofa nicely, I stood back and eyed the tree. Here in my pink room my one of a kind natural beauty Ralph Lauren tree seemed to beg for a bit of Christmas couture. A touch of Tiffanyesque dazzle might be a delightful contrast this year. I thought the chandelier crystals were going to be perfect. Mentally unpacking Christmas boxes I remembered I also have some black and white ornaments I rarely use that would play well. Thinking as I went to get a pitcher of sugar water to fill the stand that if I got the lights in place we could quite possibly decorate this evening.
My aunt Lana had been a light-nazi always sending my uncle Larry out to buy more, more, more lights. She was insatiable. My cousin Anne used to endlessly wrap christmas tree limbs for hours while Lana sat comfortably in a cozy chair with a book. Anne also wrapped my mother's tree on occasion and my mother loved watching in fascination. I smiled at the memory. Lana had been a hoot. I shook my head, enough with the ghosts of Christmas past. The idea of Apple cider with Bing Crosby and the Andrew Sisters singing “Jingle Bells” filled my thoughts. Until the needle on the LP in my head skidded off and Psycho Music blared. Tabitha was happily chasing her tail while Irish watched curiously.
My feet felt glued to the floor I watched my perfectly balanced tree withstand an inordinate amount of hijinks. I could see Chevy Chase and squirrels certain every ornament I owned would end up smashing to the ground. In fact, I was worried my Santa collection was now in mortal danger. Irish had already confused a couple of them with his play toys. What was I going to do? I'd never had a cat climb my Christmas tree before. I supposed she could learn not to if I kept a squirt bottle by the sofa.
Suddenly the tree toppled over and my decision was made. That darn cat would be locked up for the next month and the dog too if he didn’t behave. My dreams of Christmas were crumbling. My nerves were shot. I went to the kitchen poured myself a cup of coffee and called Tom. When I came back Tabitha had climbed the trunk again and she was leaping! Leaping from branch to branch. I was so mad I thought smoke was going to come out of my ears, frustrated and gnashing my teeth planning to deal with that kitten.
I sat down not knowing what to do next. Watching Tabitha melted my heart at the site of that silly kitty so happy, so grateful I’d brought a tree inside just for her. She apparently loves Christmas too. My mother's words filled my years. I could hear her telling me about mom's who spent too much money on buying toddlers expensive cakes and toys when all the kids really just wanted to shove cake in their mouths rip wrapping paper and play with the box the expensive toy came in. "You have to just “swing with it and remember what’s really important.” I could hear – "Calm down. It’s Christmas Denise – try to remember it’s about family and fun and love not interior design".
I packed up my crystals and visions of my “glitzy” tree put them back in their boxes for another time. ThenI began designing Tabitha’s perfect cat tree. What would it look like? Definitely it would have to be unbreakable with bows and...