Let me tell you a little story. A tale of the 2020 Christmas tree.
Last Saturday I woke up really early, I was like a kid on Christmas morning. I was excited because, well, today was the day we would get our Christmas tree.
Not just any tree, either. You see, we were going to cut down our very own Christmas tree from a nearby forest.
I think my excitement stemmed from feelings of nostalgia. When I was a kid, my whole family would don our snowsuits and go to the local tree farm on Derry Road to cut down a tree. I so looked forward to this tradition. I remember being absolutely freezing and walking into the warm barn afterwards to get a cup of hot chocolate or warm apple cider. I can still smell the inside of that barn. Apples and spices and yes, fresh trees!
We’d take our tree home and let it rest in the stand for a while. We’d put on Christmas carols and decorate the tree as a family. One ornament in particular that I always looked forward to putting on the tree was the Hershey’s mouse. It was a little mouse that was dressed up like a chef, holding a Hershey’s chocolate bar and some other accoutrement. I loved that particular ornament because my nickname as a kid was ‘mouse’.
Anyway, I digress. Saturday morning I managed to lull myself back to sleep. The sun wasn’t even up, we couldn’t very well look for a tree in the dark.
By the time 11 a.m. rolled around we were finally ready to go get our tree. I signed the permit (which can be found online, for free) and packed it in my bag. We headed to a nearby forest of Crown land that we knew had some very good potential for Christmas trees.
After about an hour of driving down the old dirt roads we came to a fork in the road. We stopped, decided to hang a Larry, and in the distance was a perfect patch of trees.
We turned off the truck and headed into the forest, determined. We kept finding more and more trees that were suitable until we came across the one. There it was, on the hillside, in all its glory. We made our way over, checked to make sure it was within the permit regulations, and cut it down. All the while the dogs were frolicking about and I was humming Christmas tunes. The only thing missing was snow.
We got it back to the truck and this is where the trouble began. We realized how truly mammoth this tree was. We decided that it was no big deal, we’d take it home and give it a trim; then it would be perfect.
Once home, we cut a few feet off the bottom, saving the branches for wreaths and garland. Then we set it up in the tree stand and gave it a little haircut.
Feeling pretty darn good about ourselves, we brought the tree inside. Yes, you guessed it, still too tall. Much too tall. Like three feet too tall. So, we cut some of the top off. This was also a mistake. Never cut the top. Now we have a poor tree chopped at both ends with a bad haircut.
“We should have just gone to Top Crop,” I said. That’s what we’ve always done and been happy to do. Their selection of beautifully farmed and cared for trees means you’ll always have the perfect one.
I was filled with regret. This poor tree that we took from its home in the forest stood, bare, in our living room like a giant Charlie Brown tree.
Trees sold at the grocery store or places like Top Crop are farmed specifically for putting up in your home at Christmas. As Phoebe in ‘Friends’ would say, they are fulfilling their Christmas destiny.
That said, over the past several days I have grown to be quite fond of our misfit tree. Now that it has lights and decorations it looks lovely, actually. It’s just not the ‘perfect’ tree we’re used to.
Also, no one will even see it. We can’t have friends or family come over, so who cares how lopsided it is, right?
It seems fitting that with 2020 being such a horrible year, we end it off with the worst tree we’ve ever had, too. But just like this year, we still manage to find the beauty in this tree. The memories we made getting it, the fact that it will be enjoyed in our warm, cozy farm house, and the fact that at the end of the day – it’s a symbol of nostalgia, love and light. Perfectly imperfect.