Saturday, February 03, 2007

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree, How Ever-Gone Your Branches

Yesterday was Candlemas Day. The Feast of the Presentation. And the traditional close of the Christmas Season. Duly so, our tree was taken down and hauled to the curb last Saturday.

A great deal of family tradition is wrapped up in our Christmas it progressively decorated throughout the four weeks of Advent, in order to be completed by Christmas, and is left intact and lovely for the Christmastide celebration through the end of January.

But this season, our tree was even more special than usual. I know, I probably say that every year, but allow me to elaborate. In part, because the day this story happened, my parting comment was, "Well, at least it'll make a good blog post!" (And no, I didn't get to it). And in part because Veronica made sure to remind me this week that "Claire, you never did do your Christmas Tree post!"

So, in honor of the close of Christmas, the adventure this year's tree-cutting comes to you now, in style.

It was the first Sunday of Advent: over the last few years, we've established a pattern of cutting down our Christmas tree (the self-cutting down being a long-standing tradition for us) on the first Sunday of Advent. We then bring it home, rearrange our dining room to make room for it, and give it the honored placed in the big front window, where it sits in water for a week before anything more is done to it. The second week of Advent, lights are added; ornaments, the third; and finishing touches (namely, hand-done strings of cranberries and popcorn -- a custom from Mom's childhood) in the fourth week. Thus, the state of our tree progresses with the observance of Advent -- a decorating method which works very well for us.

But back to the cutting on the first Sunday of Advent...which, by the way, just so happened to be bitterly cold this season (a little like today -- we're talking wind chill here!). We had just had our first big snowfall of the winter a few days earlier, and this had come after a good rain-turned-to-ice storm. This didn't deter us, though: we simply bundled up like eskimos and went to the tree farm. Now, our all-time favorite type of tree is a Frasier Fur, and this took us to the far back field of the farm where they were located. We children hopped out of the car and took off in all directions, as we always seem to do upon reaching the tree field. ("Look at this one!" "No, this one's better!" "I found a good one over here!") In a moment or so we spotted some nicer-looking trees in the next lot over, and so scampered over there. Mom followed at a somewhat slower pace, and Dad decided to bring the car around.

(Significant detail: The rain-turned-to-ice storm meant lower sections of the mud road were covered with frozen-over water.) "Turning the car around" entailed driving over a section of ice...

"Okay, but don't get stuck!" were Mom's last words before she started to cross the field on foot toward us.

"Don't worry, I won't", Dad assured.

Next thing we know: Dad waving to us from across the field.

Yep, he was stuck...rather, the tires were cracked clear through the ice to the 8 inches or so of water underneath!

Well, we tried pushing. Which colored things up a bit (literally), because Dad had Sarah in the diver's seat with her foot on the gas and the car in reverse, while the rest of us tried pushing against the hood.

"Step on it a little," Dad instructed as we groaned and feet slipped. She did. "A little more...wait, not that much!" Thank goodness Dad was wearing full cover-alls, because they were now fully splattered with muddy water from those spinning tires! It's :)

When all our pushing efforts only produced more spinning tires and spurting muddy water, Veronica and I hiked back to the front of the farm (and I mean hiked!) to get some help.

"Sir?" I approached the gentlemen in the paying booth. "We're...stuck."

We didn't feel quite so silly when this very patient man said he'd spent hours the day before pulling other unfortunate (unwise?) cars from the same predicament. His truck, a chain, and some prayers got us out...but we still had the somewhat small detail left of getting the tree we came for. At this point, just about any tree looked rather nice, so we pretty much walked up to one nearby and said, "It's good; let's cut it." We got out of the cold and took our tree home.

But what Mom thought was the funniest part is that when we got it into the tree stand that night and looked at it again after all that adventure, we wasn't even a Frasier Fur.

(P.S. Everyone agreed the tree was worth it.)

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