Posts Tagged With: Christmas tree

Our Most Expensive Christmas Tree Ever, But Worth Every Penny

A few years back we finally followed through with my wish to go off into the woods to cut down our own Christmas tree.

“It’ll be fun!” I said smiling.

“Think of it as an adventure,” I cajoled.

“We’ll save money,” I smiled, as I played my winning ace.

My Dream tree… Photo By Nandaro (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

My Dream tree… Photo By Nandaro (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0]

So off I went to the store to buy a twenty-dollar tree cutting permit. What a deal! Twenty bucks for the freshest tree we could get. I could hardly wait. I planned to bring snacks and hot chocolate and to dress extra, extra warm.

Did I mention that it takes two hours to drive to the forest where these trees live? Small detail.

We’d make a day trip out of it. I’d pack a lunch for us, too.

MSH prepared more than I did. He got the chainsaw ready, which I thought was excessive. I figured a small hand saw would serve us well. And he tossed our tent, two sleeping bags and a couple of big backpacks with camping gear into the back seat of our trusty truck. “Just in case,” he said. I scoffed.

Sure there might have been a storm aiming our direction. That’s why we planned on leaving extra early so we’d get back long before the storm made its way over the Sierra’s and across the desert to our neck of the woods. But, MSH loves to “be prepared.” I think he might have been an Eagle Scout in a previous life.

As we neared our forest service approved tree cutting area we saw lots of big trucks with fluffy verdant green trees, branches thick and full and just waiting for hundreds of twinkle lights and candy canes and such. I felt giddy with anticipation. We turned down a few roads and began scouting for that perfect tree. After a half hour or so we wondered if those trucks we saw had cut down every decent Christmas tree left. All we saw were scrawny things, twisted and bare branched.

We figured we needed to get out of the truck and hike around a bit. So we pulled off the main road, turned down a side dirt road and parked. As we got out of the truck the first tentative snowflakes began to fall. “Ambience!” I said.

Photo by Wsiegmund

Our reality… Photo by Wsiegmund

We saw what looked like a good tree in the distance only to find on getting closer that it was two trees snuggled in close to each other. That happened time and again. After an hour of hiking around we finally shook our heads and picked the least scrawny of the scrawny trees that surrounded us. The chain saw came in handy.

Turns out we’d hiked further from the truck that we thought we had. The hike felt even longer since we dragged a heavy, very fresh tree along the forest floor.

Of course, turning back on the main forest road we, once again, saw trucks loaded with bushy pines and knew we’d taken a wrong turn and should have kept driving another half mile to the next turn-off where everyone else seemed to know they’d find perfect trees. Too late, though. We’d cut and tagged our Charlie Brown tree.

By cogdogblog on Flickr (Flickr) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

By cogdogblog on Flickr (Flickr) [CC BY 2.0]

For fun we opted to take the scenic route. By scenic, I mean a dirt and gravel road that mostly followed the edge of the Mogollon Rim. Five miles in and far too committed to turn back, the storm kicked in a bit stronger. Winds from the south blew the snow horizontally. The huge Ponderosa pines around us seemed to brace themselves against the force. The further along we got on the Rim Road, the more the snow increased and the wind picked up. Luckily the snow wasn’t sticking to the dirt road.

When we took a little side road for a brief pit stop the truck wouldn’t start up again. Not even a click from the key turning. I pictured us huddled in our little tent for days, hoping someone noticed we weren’t around and would be found before we froze to death. But before I could imagine a great rescue scene or compile a farewell letter to my children MSH figured out a cable had shaken loose on the battery and had tightened it up. The truck started right away. Phew.

Crisis averted.

Not five minutes after that we had to stop the truck again. This time we stopped to stare in amazement and absolute awe at something we’d never seen.

By William Warby (originally posted to Flickr as Hovering Kestrel) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Photo by William Warby (originally posted to Flickr as Hovering Kestrel) [CC BY 2.0]

A hawk hovered ten feet away from the edge of the cliff. And by hovered I mean just hung in mid-air, in place, not moving forward or backward, up or down. The wings tipped a bit to compensate now and then, but for the most part the hawk simply hung there as if suspended midair. The updraft on the cliff from the incoming storm provided perfect conditions for this beautiful creature to practice wing control and aerodynamics. Five minutes. Ten minutes. We watched, mesmerized at the skill and wonder of this bird.

Finally the bird either tired out or the wind changed. A small tip of the wings and the hawk floated up and away, slowly disappearing from view.

The storm let up long enough for us to get down off the Rim and into the nearest town just before sundown. We stopped for a warm dinner, took a reading on the storm and safety dictated the rest of the drive should wait until morning. So we checked in to a motel for the night. We enjoyed a late breakfast the next morning as the storm blew through and the sun came out.

Total cost of that scrawny twenty-dollar tree? After gas, dinner, battery cable part, motel and breakfast: One-hundred-ninety-five dollars.

Trekking through the snowy woods, seeing a hawk do a stationery hover on the wind, and quality time with MSH? Priceless.

Categories: Holidays | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

The Odd Ways We Say Goodbye

Everything drips with symbolism lately.

photo 2-1 copy 5

Whether shiny, sparkly or pale the gold looked stunning next to green boughs.

I’ve undecorated the tree this afternoon. It’s time to let go. In fact, it’s past time. The needles are dropping faster, brownish tan slowly outshines the evergreen color. Sure, in a certain light, night-time,with just the small twinkle lights on, it looks vibrant and adds such ambience to the room. But in reality, a fire hazard stands in the living room.

When we first became acquainted, this tree sent its voluptuous pine scent wafting about the entire house. I thought it seemed happy here. But truly, it was simply on its last few weeks of a life spent outdoors, gazing at the stars, tucked in under the snow, basking in the sun, drenched in the rain. Then it found its life cut short and quickly waning. For a brief span of time it glowed and sparkled with beauty and light and life, its last bit of energy expended giving joy and lifting hearts.

photo 1 copy 5

A well-lived life draws to a close.

But now, fully spent, its time has come to move on. Perhaps a few of her needles will become part of the mulch that nurtures next autumns flowers into a radiant bloom. Perhaps a chill night will be brightened and warmed by her last few embers. Perhaps in years to come a photo of a decorated tree, fallen over with the weight of too many ornaments and not enough balance, will lighten the heart of an aged woman. Or another photo of that same tree redecorated and standing proud and straight with a sweet smiling man at her side will bring cheer into a grandchild’s mind.

This sweet Christmas tree oversaw a bittersweet holiday.  It did its job with honor and aplomb. If there were medals awarded for Christmas tree service above and beyond the call of duty, this tree would have earned and worn an extras star of honor.

Now a small brass angel oversees the last of the boxing up of the gold and white bulbs, the untangling of the white lights from the branches. Tonight that tree will look up at the stars once again and dream.

photo 4 copy 2

A few baubles waiting to get boxed up for another year.

Tonight, my living room will feel empty. I’ll walk in and feel lost knowing something important is missing. The empty spot will continue feeling empty regardless of the rearranging of furniture or placing of photos and lamps.

Now you see that I’m a silly, melodramatic woman, with far too much time for thinking and not enough to keep my mind and hands occupied.

I keep saying goodbye in such odd ways.

Maybe this year, this new set of twelve months, will be spent doing just that.

Categories: Death, Holiday, Memory Lane, Relationships, Wondering | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

If a Tree Falls…

It’s Gratituesday! Today I’m grateful for the weird occurrences in life that give it flavor and spice. This morning provided just such an occurrence.

Here’s a question for you.

If a tree falls in the living room and no one hears it, did it really make a sound as it crashed to the ground?

We bought our “fresh-cut” pine on Thursday evening and immediately brought it home securing it in the tree stand filled with water and some preservative. It stood four entire days regal and proud, its scent filling the house with memories of forests and camping and the wonders of nature.

I’m not sure why we didn’t decorate it right away. Oh yes, now it comes to me. We were busy. Very, very busy. Who isn’t this time of year?

I thought I saw our Christmas tree listing to the right a bit as we strung it with white twinkle lights and placed ornaments on it last night. But MSH assured me it wasn’t going anywhere. Even as it leaned a tad bit more, he assured me again.

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What I saw in the living room this morning!

So, no surprise to walk in the living room this morning to see a Douglas Pine splayed sideways across the end of the glass coffee table, ornaments thrown about the room in what was apparently a spectacularly rapid and explosive fall. There’s a strand of lights caught on the ladder we had left out to finish up with today. Luckily, or miraculously, the glass table top isn’t cracked or broken.

Not so fortunate broken glass ornaments populate the carpet. I really don’t want to have to buy more ornaments. That would mean shopping, of which I am not a fan.

I’m thinking this is one of those years that we get to somehow attach the tree to the wall or ceiling so we don’t have to deal with this mess a second or third time.

About six years ago we had a tree that didn’t want to stay standing. After three falls and three big carpet stains from the sap and water in the tree stand we secured the tree from two points on the wall with heavy-duty twine.

I’ve heard of people simply hanging the tree from the ceiling. I’ve known of some who place the tree in the play pen to keep the toddler out. I’ve never seen anyone actually have to tie their tree off to keep it upright, although I’m sure we’re not the first to have to do so.

I had been leaning myself toward having no tree this year, but was nearly voted off the island by MSH and the kids who thought that would be too depressing not to have a Christmas tree.

But this, is more dispiriting. Work that we spent hours on has to be redone. And that’s aggravating, frustrating, infuriating even, if I let myself dwell on it too long. It looked so pretty last night. White lights glowing. Gold, clear and silver ornaments reflecting the light. The Angel at the top overseeing the work of art we’d created shone with approval.



My Favorite Hallmark character Maxine

My favorite Christmas cartoon ever is a Hallmark card featuring The Crabby Road Lady. Maxine says:

“Christmas is just plain weird. What other time of year do you sit in front of a dead tree in the living room and eat candy out of your socks.”

Boy is she right. It is a weird holiday when you think about it that way. Oh sure, I know the meanings behind it all, I’m all into the symbolism of stuff (see yesterday’s post.) But still, on the surface of it we must look pretty strange doing some of the traditions we do. Maybe I need to stop being quite so much like Crabby Maxine in how I look at things.

The tree will stand again.

max on sled

Can’t you just feel Max’s little tail wagging with excitement?

We’ll approach the task with less excitement tonight, maybe after watching “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” just to put us in the right mood. I love Max the Grinch’s dog. He’s such an optimistic little soul in spite of everything he deals with.

Maybe I can try behaving more like Max. Smiling, my tail wagging, happily caught up in part of the adventure no matter how weird or warped or inconvenient things might get.

Without a few catastrophes, breakdowns, and it-only-happens-in-the-movies moments, our life would feel fairly ho hum instead of ho ho ho.

Maybe if I keep channeling my inner-Max, life might get to sound like Hallelujah more often.

However you look at it, my life’s blessed with spice and flavor and plenty of variety both good and bad.

I hope today you’re feeling blessed in some little and big ways. And I hope a bit of Max lets you feel a wag in your tail today.

And, may your tree stay standing, too!

Categories: Gratitude, Gratituesday, Holiday, Humor | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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