Christmas may have officially commenced for the rest of America on Black Friday or late Thanksgiving night when the shopping frenzy started, or maybe back in September when Christmas decorations prematurely appeared in stores, but we aren't on that schedule here. As my son said recently, quoting a friend, we like to give Thanksgiving a chance. I refuse to get all Christmas-y until Thanksgiving has had its day.
I used to wait even longer to start Christmas, refusing to launch project Noel until after my son's mid-December birthday. That holiday deserved a chance, too--especially when we thought he was too little to separate the two. I switched to the more normal Thanksgiving weekend during my years as a professional baker. In that era, if it didn't happen in that blessed lull before the storm that is December in the goody business, it wasn't going to happen.
That was still my plan this year, but Dave and I weren't in the mood on Thanksgiving weekend. We savored the quiet instead and made last Saturday decoration day at our house, starting with bringing in the tree.
In the years since I married a farmer's son, we've had a tradition of going out onto the farm to find our very real (and free) tree to decorate. We take the father-in-law's old four wheel drive Blazer to the back 240 and bring it in the old fashioned way, saw and all. It's a good time of being together out in the brisk cold, sharing a tradition that links us to generations of rural folk who've done the same.
This year provided the perfect Currier & Ives day for our tree hunt. We woke to snow, the convenient kind that pretties things up while neatly avoiding the roads. We trudged through the pasture's white mantle, finding and dismissing several possibilities (Nope, twin trunks. Nope, the fence is attached to it. Etc.),
before locating a winner that was growing down by the creek.
The men sawed it down, along with an extra one for my garland plans that would later prove pointless, at least for that day.
I never made it to making a garland, or a wreath for the front door, or any other projects because it took the rest of the productive hours of the day to erect and decorate the tree, due to its height of TWELVE FEET. Yes, they always look smaller out in the field than they do in a house, but that wasn't the reason for losing our minds so.
We all got carried away and chose a big tree because we could. With the vaulted stair area that also forms part of the sitting area being the best location for our tree, we hadn't the usual 8-foot ceiling height restriction. Maybe that wasn't a good thing.
None of us had any idea that a few more feet of tree would bring so many demands. It took all three of us to simultaneously hold the tree, secure it in the stand, and assess it for straightness (my job, of course), and it still had to be secured to the stair rail with fishing line to be sure it wouldn't fall (and it still isn't straight). We had to buy two more strands of lights to make a decent showing. The garland we had wasn't at all long enough to use, and we barely had enough ornaments to make it look adorned. Today I cut ribbons from some twenty-year-old Christmas fabric and tied bows around some of the branch ends to fill it out some. I'm just about to cave and get out the gold balls that I don't really like just to make the poor monster look more fully accessorized--as soon as I get more ornament hangers. We used all those, too.
Once it was up and decked, Dave said "Wow" a few times, being quite impressed with the size and generosity of the thing. Apparently both men think having an immense tree is cool. I just wanted to be sure we could still get to the stairs without knocking off ornaments. (We can. Barely.) It's just a liiitle out of scale with our snug barn, but hey--we can say we've been there and done that, went over the (tree) top just once.
Whatever its size and degree of difficulty, it still smells good. And that's one of my favorite Christmas treats--the crisp, resinous scent of a real tree, something we didn't have last year at the parents-in-law's house. I'm glad it's back in our lives. I loved the hunt and the decorating, and I loved sitting in its glow while Christmas music played. Even if I don't get to do all the other small and medium touches I hoped for, it now feels like Christmas because we have the tree.
It's a good thing,too. I've got to hang up my Denial hat and get shopping!