Monday, December 22, 2008

Christmas Tradition #2 ~ Tree Hunt.

This tradition begins just after this year's ends. That's because it begins by saving change; pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters. We use cash throughout the year and any and almost all change is collected in a quart-sized Mason jar on Mom and Dad's dresser. When Dad empties his pockets, the change goes in. When the ashtray in the van is full of coins, they all go in. When the kids are fined for misbehaving, it all goes in. When Mom's change purse is full, it all goes in. When the jar is full (which happens about 4 times/year), it gets taken into the bank and deposited into a savings account set aside for this one purpose. Doesn't sound like tree hunting yet, does it?

Well, when all that change has been collected, and it's nearly Christmastime, Dad books a reservation up in the mountains during one of the first 2 weekends in December. Then we head up on a Friday night, have dinner and watch movies, sleep, swim and occasionally go tubing or something fun.

On Saturday afternoon we go to the National Forest and get all bundled up within an inch of our lives and hike into the hills with one purpose in mind:
find the best looking tree that God grew all by Himself in the quiet stillness of the snow covered mountains. And, cut her down!!! Drag her back to the car, tie her up on top and, if we're really lucky (read: found a tree fast), we stop in to see Smokey the Bear for a picture.

To round out this tradition, we have to stop in town to take off the chains, change out of our wet clothes, and find someplace to get a good cup of hot chocolate. Then we head home, which is a good time for tuckered kids to nap and Mom and Dad get a little quiet conversation and hand holding!

As it happened this year, our tree tried to blow off of the roof of the van. When that happened the naps ended in trauma of having very cold wind fill the car while Mom and Dad worked quickly to get the tree tied back on top. Somehow, this inspired the children to name the tree. Eva. And I have this odd feeling that naming the tree will become a new part of this old tradition.

In the last 14 Christmases, we have missed exactly 3 years. The first time we had twin boys in the NICU and Mom couldn't leave them for even a day to go cut the tree. We bought a dead tree that year, yuck! And we promised ourselves we wouldn't do that again if we could help it. The second time was the year we lived in Manila, Philippines. They don't grow pines in the Philippines and we resorted to buying a cheap, artificial tree. Didn't like that much, but we didn't have a choice! The third time was last year. The baby was 6 months old and the weather for both weekends was stormy and horrible. I had taken our oldest baby at only 3 months of age, but the weather had cooperated. So, we tried to make a day of going to the store and "hunting" for a tree and decorating it. It just wasn't the same and the kids let us know in no uncertain terms that Tree Hunting is their favorite tradition. From here on, only the direst of circumstances will prevent us from our traditional tree hunt weekend!

All that change we collect all year round helps to fund the excursion. But the coolest thing about that is that we get to remember last year and dream of the next with every drop of coins and every deposit! And that makes the fun last all year long!

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