Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Day 91: Christmas Tree Expeditions.

I'm sitting here looking at our Christmas tree and thinking how different my kids' tree experience is compared to mine as a child.  The last two years, our little (and I mean little--but cute!) tree has come out of its box.  Stick it upright, bend the branches into place, and voila.  Other years, we go pick one out at a lot.  Love those ones, although there's something so, well, perfectly formed about them as to be almost unreal.  For our first tree together we ventured to a tree farm to cut one down, but we only did it once.  That was enough.  A friend of ours had come over to have some company the day after his marriage had instantly and unexpectedly tanked, and we were trying to think of something to do to occupy his mind.  So we took him Christmas tree cutting.  It was freezing, freezing cold and windy, and we must have tromped all over the lot before we found something remotely suitable.  Of course, we didn't realize that the average person puts their tree up right after Thanksgiving, and here we were trying to find a tree the week before Christmas.  We finally found one, only to discover that we hadn't brought anything to drag the tree out with.  So J, ever the resourceful type, removed his belt and wrapped it around the tree, and the two guys managed to truck the tree through the ice back to the van, where the struggle to get the thing onto the car ensued.  After that, we decided just getting it precut and then wrapped in netting was the way to go in the future.

Contrast.  Christmas Tree Cutting Day as a child.

Mom spent the entire year scoping for a tree.  We lived pretty much in the middle of woods, and whenever we were out and about, mom would be keeping her eyes peeled, and if she saw one she liked, and if she had some tape with her, she'd mark a tree with red surveyers tape.  A week or so before Christmas, we'd load up the gear:  Toboggan, dog (a huge heinz 57 model named Ringo), thermos of hot chocolate, saw, and rope.  Then we'd get ready.  Long underwear, warm socks, sweaters, snowsuits, boots, hats, scarves, and mittens.  Only then, looking like snow creatures, did we venture into the woods.  Of course, loads of snow has fallen since mom marked the tree, so we could never find the selected tree anyway.  We'd struggle along, breaking a trail with snow up to our knees in virgin bush, pulling the sled, socks slipping inside our winter boots (don'tcha hate that?), scarves scratching our chins and wet from our condensing breath, noses frost tipped and dripping.  I tell you, how can something frozen produce something so...so...wet?  You couldn't really tell what the trees actually would look like, covered in snow and ice as they were, so whenever mom would see one that might be suitable, she'd shake the trunk, sending the snow falling to the ground like a curtain over everyone.  Finally, we'd find a tree that would do the job, and it would be sacrificed for the cause.  Then, since our internal body temperature had dropped to arctic degrees,  a cup of hot chocolate in the bush, taking our hands out of our more often than not snow-filled mittens to hold the mug, while mom tied the tree to the sled and the sled to the dog.  Then dog, kids, tree, and mom trudged off through the snow back home, where we begged to bring the tree in and decorate it right away.  Instead, it (and us) had to sit, melt, and dry out first.  Then the bare spots would be filled in by drilling holes in the trunk and shoving in spare branches before the tree was placed in the living room and anchored to the wall. 

Then decorating.  Grandma Schreiber's glass ornaments and the little mice that mom made were our favorites.  Those were the meaningful ones.  We knew that Grandma's were special because she was, and the mice we loved because not only were they cute, but mom had made them.  Maybe that's why I still have a mice thing!  Just the crafted ones, though.  The live ones can stay outside and freeze their little tushies.  But I digress.

At the time, I'm sorry to say that I really, really didn't like the tree cutting expedition.  Although I grew up in the north, I really don't like the extreme cold.  And I'm kind of a wimp when it comes to being uncomfortable.  But that said, even though at the time it wasn't my cup of tea, now I'm glad that I had the experience.  It's kind of like labor, I guess.  We forget the pain and time mellows out the memory a bit!

Anyway, in the spirit of the decorations from my childhood, I decided when Julia got old enough that we would make new ornaments together each year, and then when she grows up and leaves home she'll have a little set to bring with her to decorate her own tree.  It's great fun, especially now that she's really into crafty things. 

And you know, when we dug out the ornaments out this year, it was the unique, slightly goofy looking, homemade ones that the kids were most excited about.  I guess although the means to obtain the tree might look different for my kids than what I experienced, some things will never change.

This year there is simply no room on our little tree to add something else, so next year we'll do the cinnamon Santas that were this year's plan.  Boohoo.  But here are a couple that we've done over the last few years.  If you'd like to give them a try, drop me a line and I'll try to find the directions.  Eep.  That could be a little Christmas adventure in and of itself.

So, straight from the camera, unedited and uncropped, please welcome:

Yer standard, pompom and craft foam reindeer.  Last year's offering.

  One of my favorites, done two years ago.  This particular one needs to lose a bit of weight, though. 
Her bell is cutting off her circulation.

 Gots to have some meece.  He looks a bit like Despereaux.  A good use for the buttons that were on a sweater given to my daughter as a baby.  We had switched out these for different buttons, but they came in handy for this little project.


Maureen@IslandRoar said...

What a great tradition with the ornaments. They're so cute!
I remember Hating being cold as a kid. I think my mom didn't realize what a wimp I was and maybe I wasn't dressed warm enough. Now that I can bulk up if I go out, I don't mind as much. I still prefer winter in front of a fire with a nice polar throw over me on the couch. I guess I am a wimp.

Le blÖg d'Ötli said...

A beautiful story for Xmas !!

Allegria said...

Maureen: I'm definitely a wimp. My feet always freeze. Now I have some big, warm Kodiak boots to use to go sledding or make snowmen with the kids. They're not stylin', and they cause me to clomp along in a very ungraceful manner, but without them I'd be inside wimpering at the very thought of going out in the cold.

Allegria said...

Otli: Thanks. It was fun. To write. The actually Christmas Tree cutting was not so fun!

Anonymous said...

Since moving south I've tried and tried to re-create the same Christmas Tree Hunt of my childhood for my own children but to no avail. But the memories and new traditions we've made in the process have been wonderful. Looks like you're doing the same! What a great Christmas post!

LL said...

You were away when Les and I did the snowshoeing to find Mom a tree expedition. We had the two puppies then and they kept walking on the back of the snowshoes and I'd face plant. Memorable...but not one of those things I'd like to repeat. You pretty much nailed the whole expedition. It is kind of standing joke about drilling the tree at our house. Every year someone has to ask "Shall I get the drill?" and we all laugh...and turn the weird looking side to the wall! Mom definitely did make the tree and the decorating an extra special thing though! Yeah for Mom's energy. Can I have some?

Allegria said...

LOL! Sis, Mom sent a note that she was sorry she caused such trauma! :oD Looking back on it it's a neat memory. At the time, however, I just wanted to be back in the house and warmed up!

Jane: The fun thing about growing up is being able to decide what to take with you from childhood traditions and what to make your own.

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