I am not a Christmas-y person. I’m very upfront about that. I don’t like the commercialism, the rush and the overall stressful buzz it seems to bring to people everywhere. (That is my observation anyway)
But I do love the tree. It brings a silence to the house, and that for me feels like Christmas.
I love the hunt for it, and I love when its up and the lights are on in the evenings and early mornings and the cat and dog cuddle up on the couch with us. It brings a sense of peace and coziness that remind me of what Christmas should be about. In between the hunting and enjoying the lights, I give up early and let the kids do their own thing. I know trying to design how I want it to look while the three of them throw random decorations on it and my husband spins it until it looks somewhat straight will just cause my head to burst. So its best I stay away from that process. I relate it to letting them fill the dishwasher – it won’t be done how I like it, so its better not to watch.
For the past few years we’ve scoured the woodlot, wind breaks and forest patches around the farm for the “perfect” tree. Perfect is always in the eye of the beholder, and for us, its usually a slight step above Charlie Brown specs.
The hunt for it is always the best part for the whole family. Being in the woods, laughing at each others suggestions for trees, falling over branches, spotting signs of wildlife and trying to keep up with where everyone is so we don’t loose each other is the best part of Christmas for me. The woods are my peaceful place and where I go for solitude. The bubbling excitement and competition that the boys bring with them sometimes takes away from that. Except when we’re combing for the tree. Its one of the few times I feel the joy of the season and soak in the excitement from them.
By now, we all know where a few good patches of fir trees stand so it takes some of the guess work out but leaves us with lots of options to choose from. One kid likes the tall spindly tree that would never even stand up without its roots holding it in place. One likes the top of the 20ft tree ahead of us but can’t quite picture what it would be like once it was actually cut down to size so can’t really be sure. And it never fails, one wants the tree that the other 4 of us have already veto’d and clings to it like there won’t be a Christmas if we don’t cut down that particular tree.
Now that they’re a little older, the fighting and complaining has calmed down a lot. At the ages they are now, they often make their own game out of being in the woods. My oldest takes his hatchet and bow saw so he can help with the cutting and trimming while we’re still in the woods. Leaving the branches and leftovers to go back to the earth and animals that may make use of them. They pretend they are invisible and try to stay still and quiet enough to catch a glimpse of a deer passing by (they claim to have seen lots, but the deer have long since caught wind of them and vacated the area)
This year we also had the added excitement of a puppy helping with the tree. I take her to the woods all the time but she’s never had the opportunity to “help” get the tree out of the woods…aka try to pull the tree back into the woods while once of us is trying to pull it out!
It’s the little things like that which make it Christmas for me. Hunting for the tree, seeing the kids and dog play around it while we drag it out of the woods. Watching them sit in front of it in the mornings eating their cereal when it and the woodstove are the only lights on in the living room. And of course, trying to keep the dog from destroying it once they’re gone off to school…
The tree is the centre of what Christmas is to me. I may be a self described Grinch, but thinking of the Christmas Tree with presents under it and the anticipation it brings to the kids makes my heart happy. Sitting beside it eating junk food and watching movies on Christmas Eve and breakfast on Christmas Morning with presents strewn around the living room is the perfect image of Christmas for me.
I may not enjoy the festivities, the busyness and the overexcitement over disposable things Christmas brings to the world. What brings me joy are the moments we take from the simple things of the season such as finding the tree, enjoying the glow of twinkly lights and watching the magic it awakens in the faces of my children is what Christmas is to me.
And it all starts with a tree.