Tree Hunting Day

 

Saturday, my husband will load chains and shovels into the truck while I’ll pack chocolate chip cookies, Christmas tapes, and lots of extra clothes. The rugrats “forget” to do their chores and Dad roars but soon everyone is squeezed into a battered pickup truck. And we’re off.

We meet at the parking lot at the foot of the mountains where family, and friends as close as family, have been gathering for almost 30 years. Someone is sure to be late and someone is sure to forget something but hot chocolate (for the skinny ones) and chatting make waiting wonderful.

Then we’re off to rolling brown hills—way up curvy roads to Public lands with our tree permits in the glove box. And there will be snow (usually) and the best trees and bigger cousins with snowboards and giggly girls with inner tubes like giant donuts and everyone will share.

Grownups tramp off for hours in order to find the right tree. Grandmas will worry that someone will be lost and not found but it never happens. Then everyone will eat hot chili from a Crock pot wrapped ’round with old red towels from when I was a little girl. Someone will be sure to make jokes about beans and gas. Someone will break out the cookies. And everyone will be sure to have one of the little sushi like things that somebody’s friend brought… and it will still taste like Christmas.

Everyone will start to worry about my husband ’cause he isn’t back yet but then he shows up with 2 trees dragging feather marks in the snow–one for us and one for his mom. And Pop will pass him a little flask of something and he’ll laugh and say, “That sure hits the spot.”

Then we’ll drive home making as many stops as possible to show off our trees and prolong the merriment.

In the quiet that follows the last house before home, the oldest little one said when he was about twelve, “That was better than Disneyland.” And my husband reached over and quietly pressed my hand in a Morse code that said, “Don’t we have a good life?” And I choked up and had to eat the last chocolate chip cookie so I wouldn’t cry.

Now the oldest little one is seventeen, sometimes mistaken for Bigfoot, and definitely not sentimental. And my husband has less hair and I have more bum but we still get excited about Tree Hunting Day. For if it doesn’t happen exactly that way every Christmas, it happens almost exactly that way.

And it happens that way in our hearts.

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11 comments

  • It’s upon us already! I hope nobody is late, and nobody forgets anything, and the chili and hot chocolate are delicious, and there is a bit of snow on the ground, and the trees are all full and well-shaped, and everyone gets back home safely! I’ll be here at home putting up my store-bought “lifelike” plastic tree, with Christmas music playing. Not quite the same as the tree-trip, but it’ll do for me.

    Have fun, everybody!

  • More fun than Disneyland Tokyo? We’ll see about that!

    It seems that our memories of the Christmas Tree Hunt are roughly the same. I always enjoy doing that, but I think I have only gone 2 of the past six years. Now that I think of it, I was living in a different house each of those six years (Garberville, Niigata, Truckee, San Diego, Redway, San Francisco)! And now Tokyo will keep me from another.

    I really hope it snows for you guys! It is so soon, everybody do your rain dance!

    Come to think of it, the last time I went, 2005, my Jeep broke down right as we hit the snow. Somehow your husband miraculously made a charred wire of mine work again. I still can’t believe that worked. Must be part of the magic of the first Saturday in December.

  • More fun than Disneyland Tokyo? We’ll see about that!

    It seems that our memories of the Christmas Tree Hunt are roughly the same. I always enjoy doing that, but I think I have only gone 2 of the past six years. Now that I think of it, I was living in a different house each of those six years (Garberville, Niigata, Truckee, San Diego, Redway, San Francisco)! And now Tokyo will keep me from another.

    I really hope it snows for you guys! It is so soon, everybody do your rain dance!

    Come to think of it, the last time I went, 2005, my Jeep broke down right as we hit the snow. Somehow your husband miraculously made a charred wire of mine work again. I still can’t believe that worked. Must be part of the magic of the first Saturday in December.

  • I’m sure the Christmas tree hunt fairy wears a slouched patched hat and chews tobacco but still he makes the magic!

  • I’m sure the Christmas tree hunt fairy wears a slouched patched hat and chews tobacco but still he makes the magic!

  • “And my husband reached over and quietly pressed my hand in a Morse code that said, “Don’t we have a good life?””

    I really like that sentence…Morse code is an excellent metaphor. Have fun tree-hunting!

  • “And my husband reached over and quietly pressed my hand in a Morse code that said, “Don’t we have a good life?””

    I really like that sentence…Morse code is an excellent metaphor. Have fun tree-hunting!

  • One of these days I’m gonna get to go again. I haven’t been since the day after I had my bottom wisdom teeth extracted (1983?) – I was still pretty drugged up, and don’t have a clear memory of it. But I’m going to play in the snow, and be skinny so I can have some hot chocolate, and probably have a little gas as well 😉

  • One of these days I’m gonna get to go again. I haven’t been since the day after I had my bottom wisdom teeth extracted (1983?) – I was still pretty drugged up, and don’t have a clear memory of it. But I’m going to play in the snow, and be skinny so I can have some hot chocolate, and probably have a little gas as well 😉

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