The Tree

This year was by far the most relaxing, most joyful time I’ve had getting a Christmas tree in a long time. 

I was raised cutting our own Christmas tree every year and I’ve passed this tradition down to my fringy family.  So, every year, we bundle everyone up, trudge off to a nearby tree farm, unload from the car, trek through the snow or mud or ice, and pick the bestest tree in the lot.  Then Jon dutifully lays down in the snow or mud or ice, and cuts the thing down.  We gently lay the tree on a tarp.  If there’s snow the kids take turns on a sled, and we pull our family and newly acquired arboreal delight back to the barn where we enjoy candy canes and hot apple cider while the jolly tree farm folk prep our tree for the journey to its new abode.

It sounds beautiful, right?  It sounds like a fantastic Christmas tradition filled with smiles, snowflakes, family bonding fit for an Irving Berlin soundtrack.  And maybe when we look back at these times years from now we will remember such an idyllic image.  Here’s the more realistic snapshots from the past 10 years.

Jon and I were young and more foolish than we are now.  We had only 1 child.  Cub was 2 years old and in the midst of potty training.  The tree farm was fantastic.  Bonfires, sleigh rides, pictures with Santa, the whole bit.  The weather, was 2 degrees Fahrenheit.  Despite bundling Cub up to the point where he looked like Ralphie’s kid brother in a Christmas Story, the moment our 2 year old set foot outside of the car, he began to scream.  Inconsolably.  Tears were freezing to his eyelashes and cheeks.  Obviously, we made the executive decision that we could not take little Cub out.  So, Jon headed out into the arctic tundra on a solo mission.  The plan was that Cub and I would stay in the car, listening to Christmas carols, and keeping warm.  Did I mention Cub was in the midst of potty training?  Blessed little bladder had other ideas.  He said he needed to go potty.  It was too early in the potty training process to deny him access to the toilet and tell him to hold it.  So, out we trudge.  To the port-a-potty.  In 2 degrees.  Off come all the snowpants, boots, jacket, mittens, jeans, pull-up.  Cub begins to scream because he’s cold.  I’m trying to keep the door to the port-a-potty shut, so I’m crammed in practically on top of the small boy that I love (though part of me was questioning just why I loved him at that particular moment) while I’m simultaneously trying to keep all clothing and body parts off the gross, frozen port-a-potty floor, and hold my son just slightly off the seat so his little bum doesn’t freeze on to the seat.  And, if you’re a parent, you can probably guess what happens.  Either he, or his anatomy, refuses to expel the urine from his body.  So, on go the layers of winter gear, out we trudge to the car, and I shit you not, the moment I get settled back into the passenger seat, “Mom, I need to go potty.”  We do this trip 2 more times.  On the final trip, I see Jon trudging down the hill, snow and ice caked to his goatee, miserable “why-did-I-ever-move-to-Wisconsin” grimace frozen to his face, but tree being valiantly towed behind.  Ahh – Norman Rockwell eat your heart out. 

Or there was last year.  Our crew had grown by 2 more humans.  Out we trudged into the snow.  Not such a cold day (we’ve wizened up over the years and check the weather forecast more diligently).  Cub was 10, KBear 7, Chimp was 3.  (Please read the following sentence with a tone that’s dripping with sarcasm)  Oh, don’t we love 3.  So, Cub was being fairly pre-teen-ish, eye rolls and all.  Though, to his credit, after a brief “pep talk”, he changed his attitude around.  Chimp was being particularly three years old.  Kbear, was being Kbear in all of her fringy, flappy glory.  The whining started before we even made it to the trees because we weren’t going to be riding the wagon out to the tree this year.  They were only selling trees within walking distance.  Chimp was running around tackling trees.  Cub was now dutifully being quite perfectionistic with his search for the most beautiful tree.  Jon was grumbling about why we always spend three times as long as we need to looking at all the trees when we inevitably end up with the first one we see, anyway.  And then KBear took off.  Bolted.  Down the snow covered hill and straight toward the row of trucks that was coming back with their trees.  I chased after her to keep her safe.  Caught her, at which point she did what most melting down SPD or Autistic kids do, she tried to get away.  Our feet became tangled up and we both went down.  I looked up to see a truck full of about 15 people piled in the back staring at us with the obvious shocked looks on their faces wondering why a mother had just apparently tackled her daughter who was now flailing around wildly and screaming hateful words.  Christmas joy.  No one can spread Christmas cheer better than us Boormans!

And so, you might wonder why we’ve continued to endeavor down this traditional tree-cutting escapade.  Most of the time I honestly don’t know why.  Maybe it’s because I’m nostalgic.  Maybe it’s because I’m the eternal optimist and I just know that next year will be better.  Maybe it’s because it’s just what we do and it’s just what I’ve always done. 

Most likely it’s because the kids seem to have “childbirth memory” when it comes to picking out the Christmas tree.  As soon as they see and smell the tree up in our house, as soon as they “hold their baby in their arms”, all the agony of the labor and delivery vanishes from their minds and memories.  Every year they get excited to go pick out the tree.  Every year they ask repeatedly if we will be going to the same place.  Every year they talk about all the memories from the years before.  And so, we’ll keep doing it.

Oh, but you might be curious as to what made this year so different for me!  Why was this year the most relaxing and joy-filled time I’ve had getting the Christmas tree in recent memory?  I have a foot injury and subsequently couldn’t trudge through the snow and mud.  So, while my crew was out in the fields laboring for their Christmas tree baby, I sat in the van and read a book.  Merry Christmas to me!