Monday, November 28, 2011

Oh, Christmas tree!

Almost every year I can remember I've wanted to do Christmas like they do on TV. Everything decorated. The whole family gathered around a big, beautiful dinner table. Impromptu caroling. Perfectly wrapped presents. Hot toddies by the fire. And, of course, a free range Christmas tree hunted and chopped down together as a family.

But every year I think these things, I also think, "You know what? Too many decorations make me claustrophobic. And those presents? They're just going to be unwrapped... "

Because as charming as I find the idea of a TV-style Christmas, I also really like the path of least resistance. And it's not because I'm lazy. It's not! It's because I've come to understand that it's the feeling of an experience that I'm after, not necessarily the experience itself.

If trudging out into the snow to sing Christmas carols for unsuspecting friends and neighbors feels good, go for it. But if it feels sort of forced and awkward and your feet are freezing and everyone who opens their door to hear you butcher Silent Night looks at you like, "What the hell is this?," it probably won't be the Lifetime Original Moment you were hoping for.

So stay home! Have some mulled wine and watch Elf (again). Do whatever makes your holly jolly. The easier, the better, right?


This has been my M.O. for at least a couple Christmases now (I'm a reformed holiday stressaholic) so you can imagine my husband's surprise when I sent him the link to a local farm and told him I really wanted to cut down our tree as a family this year.

"But I thought we decided that things like that were better left to the professionals."

"You mean the people on TV?"


But my mind was made up. These trees were local. And they had a great story. And for only $30 they could be cut to any size we wanted and loaded onto our car. I was sold!

But when we got the the farm, I couldn't help but laugh. These trees really were free range! No pesticides or grooming or, well, anything. They were so...natural.

And big.

Really, really big!

After 20 minutes of wandering around the forest, Bill was like, "Have you had enough experience yet? Can we go to Home Depot now and get a normal looking tree?" But I was not about to be swayed. These crazy ass trees had stolen my heart and I desperately wanted one in my living room. Besides, it's not like we could leave empty handed. Where's the holiday spirit in that?

Fortunately, for once, Liam was on my side. And the kid can be pretty persuasive when he wants to be...

How could we say no?

He was smitten. He found a tree he loved. Our tree. And he wasn't about to leave until it was strapped to the roof of our car.

So we pulled it out by the roots and drove it home! No, not really. The nice man who owned the tree farm cut it down and trimmed it slightly and tied it to our car. We tried to tip him for all his hard work but he was adamant. "No, no, no," he said. "Instead just come back to see us again next year." This guy knows a fun old fashioned family tradition when he sees one!

On the way home, I was so excited. We had stepped out of our comfort zone and supported local agriculture and treated our kids to an unforgettable holiday experience. We hadn't fought or spent too much money or taken the easy way out. We were knocking this Christmas out of the park and it wasn't even December yet!

But then we got to the house and tried getting the tree inside.

Just because you have 12' ceilings does not necessarily mean a 12' free range tree will fit in your house. Especially if your living room happens to be very cozy. But with a little finagling and a lot of dropped pine needles, we did it. We made it happen. And it's...well, it's a big ass tree in our living room!

But it's our big ass tree. And I can't help but laugh every single time I see it.

{Now you know the title isn't supposed to be sung like O Tennenbaum; it's supposed to be cussed like Oh, crap! I think Oh, Christmas tree! could easily be the next Son of a preacher man! Or Peter, Paul and Mary! At least for the holidays...}

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