Monday, November 28, 2016

The hunt for the perfect tree

You know those perfect Kodak family moments where everything goes just as planned? Yeah. Me neither.

I thought our tree-getting tradition was set in stone. In past years, we've made it easy on ourselves and driven the 1.6 miles down the hill to our local hardware store to pick out the perfect pre-cut Christmas tree. The process was quick, relatively painless and it got the job done. The kids honestly thought this was what people meant when they said they "went and cut down a Christmas tree." There were some years where we could pull the van right up next to the tree stall, throw open the door, grab the perfect tree and hoist it onto the roof of the car all without ever taking the baby out of the infant car seat - WIN!!!

This tradition wasn't quite as romantic as my childhood memories of visiting the tree farm but it sure was a heck of a lot less stressful. Plus the hardware store always offered a coupon for discounts on their firs which was truthfully how this tree-fetching routine ever began in the first place.

I thought we were sticking with tradition on Friday morning when my husband announced it was time to get in the car. I was still in my pajamas and nursing my coffee and nowhere near ready physically or mentally for a tree hunting endeavor. I overheard him telling the girls that they would need to wear their rain boots because it was going to be muddy at the farm.

"The farm?" I thought. "Oh boy."

The kids had been excitingly talking for days about our upcoming trip to "that store that has those toy chicken things that lay eggs out of their bottom" (also known as our local hardware store) where we were to pick out the perfect tree. They were sold on our pre-cut tradition and I wasn't sure how they would handle a last minute adjustment to our plans. I'll suffice it to say, much like their mama, they aren't known as huge fans of change. ;)

I ran upstairs and jumped in the shower and had a little heart to heart with my attitude. Meanwhile Graham loaded the kids in the car while I applied makeup to cover up my scowl. By the time I fastened myself into the passenger seat of the van, I had mostly* gotten excited about the adjustment to our plans.
The kids, however, were a different story. The car was filled with much wailing and gnashing of teeth. One kid was sobbing because Daddy wouldn't permit a post-breakfast lollipop while another child was struggling to accept that the coat in her hand would work just fine for the occasion. Before we were even out of the driveway, a parent (who shall go unnamed) very audibly exclaimed in frustration "These kids just won't SHUT UP!"


"We don't say those words in our family!!" said one of the aghast little passengers in the back.
And so our little family outing commenced. We weren't off to the greatest of starts. Please tell me you have been there!? The drive was long and beautiful; the trees laced by moss looked magical with the sun backlighting their branches. By the time we reached our destination, we'd all had time to consider our actions. Apologies were said and our blood pressures normalized as excitement grew over what we about to do.
This tree farm knew what they were doing. One stop at the Mistletoe Tester stand and we were sold on the place. I've always had a thing for mistletoe. We've had a sprig hanging over our kitchen archway this entire year. I hung it there last Christmas and just never took it down. Now if the kids ever catch us kissing anywhere else in the house they exclaim "Hey! You're supposed to do that under those leaves!"
No one in the family was too bothered by the fact that the tree farm offered candy canes and hot chocolate for FREE either. Candy canes are practically lollipops, right?
This is Emma's new pose, apparently (as evidenced by the fact that she has her arms crossed in every single one of the pictures I took of her this day - watch for it!!)
I think we probably set a record for the Longest-Amount-of-Time-it-Takes-a-Family-to-Pick-a-Tree but we didn't care because we were on the hunt for the PERFECT tree (and mind you, we did look at EVERY LAST ONE). The kids loved how the stump stubs left by previous tree hunters made the perfect little built-in coasters for their cups of cocoa.
While daddy walked around to make sure the tree we were considering was truly the very best one on the farm, mommy acted natural as she tied the camera to a nearby tree in hopes of setting up the perfect family photo op. She could have asked someone to just snap the picture for us instead of using the timer but that would have been too easy. Instead she did it her own way and ended up with a bunch of off-center-heads-lopped-off-not-everyone-looking photos, none of which were good enough to make the Christmas card. Sigh.
The kids thought this one would be great - PLENTY of room for lots of big presents!
But in the end, this was the one that won out. My handsome lumberjack owned that tree in three quick saws.
Did we mention that the tree farm also offered FREE s'mores around the fire pit? (Sensing a theme? We like free!)
Daddy and all the kids were pretty smitten with this sweet Christmas dog that was milling around. Even Mommy had to admit he was pretty cute. So she made Daddy a deal and said that if he buys her a farm, she'll buy him a dog. Perfect.
So what's the moral of this Christmas tree story? I think we could come at it from a number of different angles.

1) Be careful what you do during the Christmas season when your kids are little (like buying your tree from the Hardware store...) It might just become a tradition that you are not allowed to stray from without a lot of grief.

2) Be open to new experiences. They just might be fun.

3) Do what's right for YOUR family this year - u-cut, precut, artificial, whatever! Pay no mind to everyone else's perfect-looking pictures. Behind each lovely capture is 87 terrible ones where the kids are either wailing on each other or throwing a temper tantrum in the dirt because Daddy wouldn't let them have a sucker for breakfast.

4) Don't try to use the camera timer. Just ask someone else to snap the family photo.

5) If you find yourself in tears during ANY point of the tree-getting and decorating process, remember this is completely normal. I cannot recall a single tree experience that didn't involve tears (farm or hardware store). Truly.

May your tree hunts be as merry as ours! Merry Christmas.


  1. We have yet to try the "cut your own tree" adventure because I'm not sure it will be worth it. ;) Our pre-lit fake tree that has seen better day is all my kids have known and right now, I'm okay with that.

    1. Girl, don't mess with the very good thing you've got going on! 😉

  2. I'm just hoping you also experienced the "tree decorating fight" that amazingly we somehow skipped out on this year. Guess I finally got used to my husband hucking ornaments at the tree.

    1. Ha! My initial intent when I started the post was to mostly discuss the terrible aftermath of the home and tree decorating process. I have loads to say about how that went down (and no it wasn't pretty!!) I'll suffice it to say lights were being strung on the outside of the house, the kids were left to their own devices with the tree, a coffee table was being stained in the garage, I was stupidly trying to make homemade ravioli while ornaments shattered around me when we got a call from my father-in-law asking if we wanted to switch cell phone carrier providers. It was at that point that I grabbed a bottle of wine, poured myself a huge glass and went and sat in a dark room alone!!!


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