The Real Tree Deal

Choosing a Christmas tree is supposed to be like a scene in a movie. You know, a little square tree lot marked by jaunty white lights, and a jumble of douglas firs and blue spruces crammed together. Cue the Christmas music and a few stray snow flurries and the scene is complete. You’re ready for a tranquil stroll through the greenery.

But our local tree farm is neither tranquil nor movie-worthy. It’s a working farm that’s bustling with activity. There’s loud racket from a machine that shakes the newly-cut trees free of debris. But it’s drowned out by a fleet of ancient tractors that rumble past, belching and backfiring in shotgun bursts as they tote people to far-off fields.

With the dog, the boy and the Barbarian, we dodge the tractors and set out on foot to avoid the crowds. Soon we have an entire stand of trees to ourselves. It just us… and a monstrous Caterpillar machine rolling back and forth over a nearby field.

“I’m going to look at these trees here!” I holler over the teeth-jarring noise. “Hey, where’d the kids go?”

We find both of them moving forward in fits and starts, powered by Maisie, who is attached to Cayden with our makeshift leash — a piece of baling twine. The kids are torn between two options: plunging into a deep black pond or climbing a towering scrap heap of discarded metal and wood. Fortunately kid retrieval is easy; we call Maisie who sprints toward us, yanking Cayden off his feet and dragging him up the hill. Hadley follows.

Perfect tree found, cutting commences

Dog and boy supervise; Hadley increases difficulty level

Once we find our tree and Martin cuts it down, we trek back to civilization, hoisting tree and saw over a muddy field while we trip over the twine-entangled dog and the kids.

Why do we go to this trouble each year? Amidst the noise and crowds and chaos is a field of lovely trees, one more shapely and symmetric than the next. But more than that, it’s all the activity — families trudging out together, farm dogs running about, and old men dressed in carhartts who have nothing better to do than drink in the activity and chat with us while we down milky hot chocolate.

At home, we plant the tree in its stand and free it from its mesh wrapping. It’s a tall, burly bushy tree. It’s perfect.