My family, hunting for the perfect tree
(Toledo, OH) Were it up to me, my family would each year dust off the artificial tree we have buried somewhere in the basement. Luckily, in our house my wife better understands the importance of tradition and family activities than I, and so we have developed a ritual over the last decade of traipsing out to the woods to select the annual Christmas tree.
Our favorite destination to procure said arboreal icon is a family-owned business called The Farm, which is located in Whiteford, MI on Samaria Road between Secor and Summerfield Roads. They are friendly folks who will help you hoist the tree onto your vehicle, and provide saws and string. They also sell day lilies during the warmer weather.
The chosen victim awaits its sacrificial fate
Part of the tradition involves the process by which our children select the tree. This year we got a late start, as two of our progeny are away at college (BGSU and Columbus State), and they insisted we wait until they could participate. Some years the debate became rather heated, as factions would form over the merits of the "perfect" tree.
This year, though, my oldest son found the ultimate tree after only a few minutes of walking through the candidates, and there was little opposition to his selection of the 6'8" pine tree that we claimed.
The setting sun, for me, was a melancholy metaphor highlighting the fact that we likely have but a few years left to this tradition, at least with all of our children present. Soon they will be starting families of their own, and we will lose the ability to gather them all together for a few hours on a Saturday afternoon.
At times lately I am a bit forlorn over the family activities I have missed over the years, as I sometimes allowed business obligations to take precedence over family time. I vowed a few years ago that I would never again let work edge out my time with my family, but there is always a pang in my heart for memories I missed during my years of owning retail businesses.
A piece of advice to any new parents reading this: if your job interferes with your family life, find a new one. There are millions more just like it, but you only get one chance at a family. Well, unless you are Tom Cruise or some other celebrity idiot, but I would wager that what passes for "family" in Tinseltown is a shallow imitation of true family life.
Decorating the Christmas tree
After the perfunctory half-hour of wrestling with the tree to trim branches and get it to fit the stand, our Christmas tree was ready to decorate. Every kid has a few favorite ornaments, and there were plenty of memories in the boxes of assorted decorations. Several children paused to remember my wife's mother, who passed away several years ago, since they had ornaments she gave them.
If you look closely in the last photo, the urn that holds her ashes is in the upper righthand corner, on top of the piano; I hope that it is not maudlin to suggest that she was there in spirit as well.
As the Christmas songs played, we gathered together for an hour to continue a family tradition. Our older kids were all gone by 8:00 pm (hey - it was a Saturday night!), but the ties that bind us together grew a little stronger last evening.
As they drove away to their various social activities, I was sad that the evening ended so soon, but gladdened that my wife makes sure that we do not forget our traditions.