Every year after Thanksgiving, our family looks around the land to find a “Christmas tree” to bring inside. They don’t look like the ones at the Christmas tree farm much at all, but there are lots of tree choices and they’re free. We enjoy riding around to scout trees out and then start our discussions.
Tree selection is a pretty big deal. We take votes. We listen to each other and try to persuade those who are undecided. We sometimes negotiate for days trying to come to a consensus. The rule is that everyone gets to vote and then I have complete veto power. And we’ve had some pretty unusual trees. We’ve ended up with things like a 15-foot tree that engulfed the whole living room, an upside down tree hanging from the loft railing, and two small trees side-by-side on one occasion to compromise in a dispute between two species of tree. I should have vetoed the two small trees because I regretted the way it looked all season.
Every year it gets more and more complicated to complete this process. It gets dark so early, and there are so many things happening in our schedules. We like to do this all together, and finding a time when all five of us are all available this year has proved to be basically impossible.
On the weekend after Thanksgiving, it rained Friday and Saturday. In hindsight, we should have just gone out in the rain to at least begin the process, because we actually did have time that weekend. Then Sunday our day was packed with church activities and we were gone for the entire day. Monday the kids went back to school. By the time they are done with their activities and we get home during the week, it’s almost dark or is dark. Nathan and I knew it was going to get crazy, so the two of us took off into the woods to scout out trees at his lunch break on Monday so that we could offer suggestions to possibly expedite the tree selection during the short daylight time we might have all together. But then, the week happened. We were never home as early as we thought we’d be. One day we got home with about 15 minutes of daylight remaining to find that Nathan was on a call and unavailable. We did talk some about the trees with the kids. Nathan told them, “There’s the big one, the little one, and the awesome one.” Hard to tell which one he wanted.
Our kids have band events and dress rehearsal and all kinds of things happening this weekend, so there was simply not going to be a daylight time for us to do this as a family. As far as available time, this next week would be worse than the one before. It was getting to be now-or-never on the tree. So Nathan and I came up with a plan. Yesterday at lunch, the two of us took pictures of 3 trees: Big, Little, and Awesome (or Chubby). When I picked up the girls from school, I showed them the photos so they could vote. Sam was somewhere else, so I emailed him the photos and had him vote. Sam, Lydia and I all had to be gone for the evening last night. But with the votes in, we had Nathan and Abby go in the dark to acquire Chubby. When the rest of us arrived home, there he stood in the living room in all of his awesomeness. See, I wasn’t kidding when I said we have weird trees.
I love having traditions that create really special memories and even a sense of stability for my family. But I also love letting things evolve and change as my family does, and finding creative ways to hold on to parts of special traditions.
Finding a time to decorate that tree will be another story.