Saturday, November 24, 2007

Needles in Hair - Christmas Tree Search is about the Experience

The quotes on the flier caught my attention:
“Say no to sawing and hauling”
“No needles in your hair”
“No muddy shoes”
“No heavy lifting”
“No sore sawing arm”
“Reduce holiday stress now by selecting your Christmas tree now and we deliver later.”

All you have to do is select what size you would like and what style you prefer, and for a mere $ 100, you could let another person do all the dirty work, delivering a holiday tree right to your doorstep.
Maybe we should call it a Drive-Through McTree Service.

Alas, something is amiss in our lives if we view going to get a Christmas tree (wherever that might be) as a hassle, as stressful, as just one more thing to do, relegating it to a drive-through experience to get it over with.

Because we’d be missing out on precisely what this ad boasts about-- the needles in the hair, the muddy shoes, the sawing arms – that is, the experience, the story.

And that experience, a tradition that my husband Chris and I have done year after year with our children, now ages 4-17, is something that our family looks forward to every Christmas season. The kids ask us about it, when are we going and what time are we meeting grandma and pa at Starbucks and we’ll talk about if any of the cousins or friends are joining us, as sometimes occurs.

The tradition is to go the day after Thanksgiving (no getting up at 4 a.m. to stand in long lines for Black Friday shopping), and this year was no exception though Thanksgiving came early.

Mount Hood National forest is our destination, first stopping at Estacada Ranger Station for a $ 5 Christmas Tree permit. Five dollars for a Christmas tree! We could see, as Augustin calls it, “Mountain Hood” crystal clear visible against the clear blue sky day framed by white snow as we climbed higher and higher toward our final stopping point.

Once be arrived, we put on our snow boots and hats and mittens and jackets and marched right through the thick snow to look for the perfect Noble Christmas tree, one for us and one for the refugee family from Sudan.

I am pretty picky and after we finally settled on a 10-footer for us and a 7–footer for our friends, Rachel, 17, asked for the honors of cutting the trees down. It was fun to watch her saw through the trunk and listening to her comment about how much harder it is than it looks; then she and brother Ryan, 16, helped haul the trees up the hill through the thick snow. We all broke out a sweat.

When we reached the top of the hill the twins, 10, and Augustin, 4, who had stayed back with the grandparents (who found their tree closer to our cars,) had started creating chairs out of snow -- and you thought snowmen were creative -- these were snow-chairs, complete with a place to put your drink. What fun. They had big brother try their chairs out to see which he liked better, and they compared it to the Three Little Bears story. Indeed, Augustin made one as well, a little chair out of snow. What fun stories to share.

I pulled the kids away long enough to snap photos in front of our Christmas tree before settling into our sack lunches in the sunshine glimmering on the bright snow setting.

We had very few pine needles in the hair and our boots were wet – not muddy – from the snow.

And Rachel said nothing about having a sore arm from sawing, though it would not have mattered. The experience is one we would never trade for a quick drive-through tree service.

We’d miss out on the story.

~ Cornelia Seigneur

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