Christmas is a season of traditions. Every family has them and we were no different. In the family I grew up in, three brothers and two sisters, we would always have a live tree for Christmas. The tradition for us involved my two sisters. Each year, once we had secured the tree, it would be flocked. For those of you unfamiliar with this term, it meant the tree would be sprayed with an icing of sort. Now normally that would be snow colored. Not in our family. Each year my sisters would pick their current color of the year. There may be some argument on this, but I actually remember a year when the tree was purple. Dad must have really loved his daughters to support this tradition. That or he had just given up and went with the flow or shall we say the flock.
Traditions evolve as families extend. The Friday after Thanksgiving has always signaled the beginning of our Christmas traditions. It is on that Friday that we head out as a family to bag the perfect Christmas tree. Simple, right? Our family consists of my wife, Deb, and my two daughters, Bailey and Kathryn. Like my dad before me, I too love my daughters and for them it couldn’t just be a live tree, it had to be found and cut down as well. Needless to say, when four people are trying to find the perfect tree, things can get messy. After several years spent arguing and wrangling and yeah even tears over who got their way, and by the way, that wasn’t ever me, we decided to become dictatorial. Now in a perfect dictatorship, that would be dad gets to pick since he pays for and trims that tree with the lights. You know, the lights that work perfectly until you get them on the tree, but that might be another story for another time. After wrangling and arguing and yeah even more tears, we settled on a rotation. Each year would be the next in line’s right to choose the tree, no arguments, no wrangling, just compliments for the magnificence of the tree chosen. It worked, sort of, until we would get the tree on the car and head for home. Then the arguments would still ensue but at least the deed was done.
In the year of this story, it had been my turn to choose the trophy tree for the cutting. As the day approached, I was eager for my turn after my three year wait. As my daughters implored me to come upstairs to get going for the tree hunt, I calmly asked them to come down to our lower level. You see, we had four very large evergreens in our back yard and one had now grown too close to the other three and was starving for light and life. I knew it had to come down and had on a previous inspection, noticed that the top of the tree was the perfect Christmas tree shape. When the girls came down to join me, I announced that I had already chosen my tree. Bailey and Kathryn looked suspiciously at me and asked where we would be going to get “my” tree? As I pointed to the tree in the back yard, I was met with total disbelief and then my youngest declared, “You can’t do that, we have to drive somewhere.” Bailey, the light coming into her eyes, spoke up, “Remember the rules, who ever’s turn it is gets to pick the tree. No questions arguing.”
With that decided we headed out to the yard, saw in hand, to cut down the tree. As my wife and the girls stood by watching, the tree came down and the top seven feet was cut off. Proudly standing it up alongside of me, the tree was given the required compliments on it’s majestic qualities. Ready to drag it inside, Bailey makes her request, “Can we at least put it on the car and drive it around the block so we can argue about it?”
I guess the arguing was part of the tradition all along, just as my dad giving into my sisters was part of that tradition. Our family continues to extend and my daughters have their own homes. One perfect tree has become three perfect trees and I suspect in not too many years, Jackson and Adela will be getting their trees too. Its not just what the tradition is but how you preserve it and evolve it into your own family that counts. So pick one and drive it around the block, if for no other reason do it for tradition sake.