I go all out for the Christmas season, starting just after Thanksgiving when I spend a half-day setting up my outdoor lights. When I refurbished the garage ten years ago, I added an extra electrical circuit just for my lights. In years past, I installed over twenty strings all across the front of my home: icicles hanging from the gutters, various colors chasing around the bushes, big old incandescent bulbs lining the sidewalk and gardens. One year, I even added lights to the patio in the back.
My wife tried to get me to tone down the display so it was not so gaudy. I tried to please her as the years passed, but I always seemed to overdo it. This year, I found the job to be more tiring than I expected, so I stopped short of the Coney Island look. However, I must admit we both are quite satisfied with the results:
The chore of retrieving boxes of Christmas tree ornaments stashed over the garage, and the tree itself, is a feat worthy of Atlas. Now mind you, I grew up on a Christmas tree farm. My father and I planted about twenty acres on the curved hill behind our house in the foothills of the Allegheny Mountains. In spring, we planted little seedlings of pine and spruce; in summer, we pruned them into shape; starting in November, we harvested them. I fondly recall the hard work of dragging the cut trees off the hill into our yard to be sold wholesale to dealers, peddled individually off our lawn to the locals, or given to local orphanages. It was hard work for a teenager, but the cold winter air, scent of pine everywhere, and exercise felt invigorating.
|Christmas Tree Farm Painting - Laura Tasheiko|
My sister helped, and Dad often hired my friends for the harvest. We climbed the hill, grabbed two or three trees at a time, and pulled them with all our might down the slopes, over and over again! By the end of the day, exhausted, we collapsed around our kitchen table for mom's hot chocolate and marshmallows. How delicious those times were! Of course, we had the best tree in town right in our living room!
About twenty years ago, when my stepdaughter was about twelve, I decided to introduce her and my second wife to the joys of finding and cutting our own Christmas tree. We traveled out of the city to a farm just off the interstate, parked the car, and slogged through endless fields to find the perfect tree. I was the “expert”, and we found a pretty good one. By the time we got back to the car, we were cold, wet, and tired, and our boots were caked in an inch of muddy clay. Tree hunting in Texas is not the same as up north!
I reveled in the fun and excitement, but the girls were not so enthused. After that year, we got our tree from a local dealer in a parking lot. Soon after, we discovered that the garden center would deliver and set up a tree. I never again had to tie a tree to the roof of my car, hassle it into the garage to re-cut the base of the trunk, try to fit it into the stand, drag it into the house knocking over furniture and knick-knacks as I went, and set the thing upright trying to get it vertical. What a revelation!
Unfortunately, our daughter developed allergies in her teen years and, much to my consternation, she started sneezing and coughing as soon as the Christmas tree made its debut. I guess it was catching, because my wife began having the same reaction. It was a difficult decision for me to switch to an artificial tree, but now I am a believer. I embraced the minimal hassle of setting up a three-section, pre-lighted, always vertical tree-in-a-box!
I enjoy the wonder and excitement of decorating the tree, setting out the stockings, buying and wrapping presents, and emailing my Christmas wishes. But the most wonder-filled feeling comes with sharing time with my family. Christmas brings warm feelings of connection and love. It renews my faith, draws me closer to those I hold dear, and prepares me for the next great adventure of the season: making new year’s resolutions…
May this season bring you and your loved ones serenity, balance, connection, light, and the warmth of love!