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Life with Liz: Finding the perfect tree

Published December 01. 2018 07:46AM

Since we had a relaxing holiday weekend at home, and since every weekend between now and Christmas is a blur of basketball games, scouting events, holiday parties and who knows what else, we decided to get our Christmas tree early.

Years ago, we used to participate in a historic homes tour that our town held during the holidays, in conjunction with a weekend-long holiday celebration. While it always meant that the Thanksgiving holiday was rushed so that we could get the house decorated, it also meant that the house was fully cleaned and decorated right at the beginning of the holiday season.

Then kids happened. The nicely decorated house and the early preparation went by the wayside quickly. The first few years weren’t too bad. The kids weren’t involved in the weekend activities yet, so we still had the luxury of taking a long walk through the tree farm to find our perfect tree.

The past few years have found us scrambling. In a good year, we’d get a solid snow day. Enough snow to cancel school and all the after-school activities, but not too much snow that we couldn’t trek to the tree farm later in the afternoon. While this had the added bonus of creating some really nice scenery for some family photos, we also found ourselves at the mercy of Mother Nature, who isn’t exactly known for cooperating. You can thank me and my friend Murphy’s Law for some of the mild Decembers we’ve had recently.

Faced with a solid three-hour stretch of sun on Sunday afternoon, the Wonderful Husband looked at me and said, “Let’s go for the tree!”

While my first thought was, “but I haven’t cleaned the tree spot yet!” I quickly got on board when I glanced at the upcoming calendar. I realized it was now or never.

As we arrived at our favorite tree farm, A pulled his nose out of his book long enough to give that special preteen sign of exasperation and ask if he “haaaaad” to go pick out a tree or if he could just wait in the car. Since the other two were already out of the car and fighting over who got to carry the hand saw and who got to carry the measuring pole, I must admit, staying in the car was tempting, but in the interest of creating family memories, I dragged us both out.

True to form, the bickering continued all the way to the tree patch. Since one of them was dragging the tree cart, one had a sharp cutting device, and the other one had a 10-foot-long pole in hand, things were threatening to get ugly fast. Suddenly every tree in the patch looked like exactly the right one to me! Let’s chop that thing down and get out of here before there is bloodshed.

Thankfully, though, after a little more trekking, everyone settled down and tried to find the best tree. I love big, fat, full trees, and we have a long, narrow living room with French doors at one end where the tree goes. The more of that space the tree can take up, the better. I could see the WH’s face getting more and more grim as the kids ruled out one tree after another for a bigger and bigger and bigger one. He’s the one who has to haul it up a flight of stairs and get it settled.

Amazingly enough, or just because we all knew the longer we dragged things out, the worse they would get, we all agreed on a tree pretty quickly. I liked it because it was big and fat. The WH liked it because it was very full on top and it already had a hole on the bottom for the manger. G and E liked it because they were ready to get to the chopping part, and A just rolled his eyes and said, “whatever.”

G insisted that he was going to fell the tree himself. Since the ground was pretty muddy, we were all only too happy to let him wallow around under the tree himself. Although it took about five times as long to bring that tree down, I have to say it was worth it to see his smile of satisfaction when it finally came down.

A shocked everyone by hauling the tree all the way back to the loading dock all by himself. Uphill and through the mud. G and E did offer some token pushes, but in the end, he was just as proud of his contribution to the process as G was of his. E will have her turn when we finally drag the decorations up from the basement.

An hour later, Christmas Tree 2018 was installed in the living room. Where it’s still sitting. Naked. Taco Cat has been enjoying herself immensely both playing in the tree and hiding under the tree skirt. The fragrance in our living room can’t be beat, and while it’s going to be at least another weekend until it looks like Christmas, at least it smells like it for now.

Liz Pinkey is a contributing writer to the Times News. Her column appears weekly in our Saturday feature section.

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