The day after Thanksgiving, the four of us pile into our car and take a ride up north to Sebastopol. It has become a family tradition. We search out the perfect Christmas tree farm, and begin the search for the even more perfect Christmas tree. We park the car and head for the hills. Kyle goes for the saw that looks like something from an Ignar Bergman film, and Will pulls the Christmas tree cart. We walk through endless isles of beautiful living Christmas trees and comment on each one.
"Look at the bald spot, that won't do."
"That one's too skinny."
"This one is perfect. Wait. No, it has some dead branches."
And so our search continues.
This year I spotted our tree the first moment of our arrival. But we had to look at all the trees to make sure it was the very best one. It was.
We take turns sawing the tree down. I think Tom does most of the heavy work but we all pretend to help. Kyle and Tom drag the tree to the Christmas tree cart and Will pulls down the country road, past Santa Claus Lane, to the shed near the entrance where a couple of men who look like they know what they are doing, plunk the tree on a long wooden bench and slide it through a contraption that tightly pulls netting around it.
They usually have to recut our trunk because we have normally sawed it improperly. This year it was perfect.
We drove back with our tree tied to the top of the car happily. We knew we had found the very best tree.
Getting the tree inside the house is always a fiasco, especially when the tree is 12 feet tall. But somehow we always manage.
It's not until the next day that we begin to decorate our new addition to the living room. And not before we enjoy Fondue Chinois. Yes, this is another family tradition. We place thinly sliced pieces of tender meat into a broth and wait for it to cook. Then we gobble up the cooked meat with a variety of sauces and condiments. And then finally we decorate.
I think this all got started when Kyle was in pre-school and he was asked to talk about his families holiday traditions. We must have done this once, the year before and he decided he liked it. After he told his little friends and teachers all about our "family tradition" it was created...and so it is...every year...rain or shine.
I am delighted to have a tradition. It grounds me and helps reassure me that we have a set of traditions that tie us together. I am sure the kids will always remember this event as the kick off of the holiday season. I think they will make an effort to come home and be apart of this tradition. I can almost imagine dragging little grandchildren through the Christmas tree farm--almost.
This year, Kyle brought his girlfriend with us. I thought it was wonderful that he wanted her to share this with us. He wanted her to be a part of our family tradition.
She was with us when we ate fondue Chinois and decorated the tree. It is wonderful to think that this simple tradition can unite us together and yet leave plenty of room for friends and lovers. I am delighted to be part of something so meaningful to the three men in my life.
Now, I have to make sure the tree is watered and well decorated. And I have to make sure we are not all too busy to enjoy its splendor. I sit on the couch and look at its lofty but peaceful presence and can't help but smile. I am thankful for my family!