Grits and Purls

Spinning yarns about the grit of life

treefarm_dThis weekend was devoted to renewing existing family traditions and creating new ones. We began this Saturday with breakfast with Santa (sponsored by the Milton Optimist Club). It’s a new tradition for us, but one that our daughter enjoyed immensely, and one that we will probably repeat. The afternoon was spent on a trek to our favorite Christmas tree farm for a wagon ride out to the Christmas tree fields, the search for the perfect tree, a chance to meet and greet Dancer, one of Santa’s reindeer, and enjoy hot cider and treats. The weather wasn’t ideal for these activities. The hot cider and donuts are a little more magical when you have been trudging in the snow and cold looking for your tree, but still it was a very pleasant afternoon.

The evening was spent putting up and decorating the tree. Neither my husband nor I dared speak our fears, but we both thought the tree was up and straight awfully quickly with minimal fussing. It had really seemed too easy. We brought it in, placed it in our tree stand, turned the screws.

“Is it straight?” I asked from underneath the tree.


“Try letting go.”

“I have. It seems okay.”

“Think we should cut the baling string and unfurl the branches?”

“Guess so.”

“Wow, what a beautifully shaped tree. It’s nearly perfect. And so straight.”

Both of us were keeping a jaded eye on the tree.

Just as our daughter was placing one of the last ornaments on the branches, it started listing toward her. We heard ornaments rattle, and we were both quick to respond.

“Get away from the tree!” my husband yelled, bounding forth from his chair.

“Oh no!” I rushed from where I was repacking ornament boxes and grabbed the trunk of the tree.

“I didn’t even touch it,” my daughter cried defensively.

“I know. It just fell, but Dad and I wanted to catch it before it fell on you. That wouldn’t have been very fun. It’s not your fault. Christmas trees just do this.”

Crisis averted, my daughter and I headed upstairs to brush teeth and start our bedtime routine. My husband lashed the tree to the back of the piano. Then he spent most of story time assessing the problem and engineering and building a wooden collar for the tree. He might be an electrical engineer, but he’s pretty good with a saw, a hammer and some nails too. No electrical tape or wire ties were used in the stabilizing of the Christmas tree.

We finished up our bedtime story, a new and delightful story I discovered while browsing at Book World in Janesville, A Christimas Tree for Pyn by Olivier Dunrea, and said our good nights. My husband and I went downstairs and applied the “fix” to the tree—the collar he made fit perfectly and worked beautifully.

So now we have an upright Christmas tree, lit and beautiful. It has no presents underneath, and that is fine. Those will come eventually. But more importantly we have a day full of memories. A breakfast with Santa captured on film, a trek through the Christmas tree farm, and and a special story to share every Christmas: “Hey Mom, do you remember that year when the Christmas tree almost fell on me?”

My daughter has her own little Christmas tree in her room this year, and I have showed her how to make a simple paper garland for it. She is busy now at her craft as I type. There is Christmas music in the background, and the tree is lit. Just like when I was a little girl, I can stare at the lights and dream and remember and connect with the Christmas traditions new and old.

© 2012 Michele Arduengo All rights reserved.

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