Hanging on to family Christmas traditions, not wishing the years to pass and times to change, we wait. Sometimes we wait until nearly the last minute. While Christmas lights fill our neighbor’s homes and living rooms with warmth and the spirit of what follows, only single candle lights stand in our windows. As always, we wait until children are home from far away cities and universities. Our once farm children arrive by plane with city on their cuffs. We pull out their old boots, barn coats, handknits, and flannels in hopes to draw out a little bit of country from beneath their city coats and collars.
We head out on December 22, just two days before the eve of Christmas, to find our Christmas tree, which we will fill with ornaments and lights to fill our home with warmth and light. We pull into the tree farm drive and find all quiet and still. We see a sign that reads, “Closed December 21. Open only by appointment.” We sit a few minutes, hoping to draw the tree farmer out from the warmth of his fire and hot cider. But no one comes. We have driven out in a snow storm to cut our tree and the tree farmer is treasuring his own family traditions.
So we decide to drive back up the mountain to the farm to venture into our woods to find our Christmas pine. On the edge of field and wood, stands a clump of tall grass, a few pine trees and a pile of rocks. One tree catches our eye. As we investigate it more, we see a little tree beneath it, standing 2 feet tall. It is struggling to live beneath the boughs of the big tree. It seems the perfect Christmas tree then, we will cut the larger tree in order to save the smaller tree that is struggling at its feet. Taking tree for tree, life for life, we cut the tall pine down and trim its branches so it will fit into our house. Left behind is the small tree, reaching tall to the sky with green branches.
We pull our tree across the field leaving a trail in the snow that will soon be hidden by snow on snow. Grasping the branches, we all pull, as if hanging onto family one more year, one more Christmas.