Nothing is easy with kids. I know this. So you can imagine my reluctance when my husband suggested that we cut our own Christmas tree this year.
“It’s only $10 for a permit, and the kids will have so much fun in the woods!” my dear hubby claimed. (Isn’t he cute and naive?)
The voice of reason inside my head was singing a different tune: “It’ll be freezing. The girls will have to go potty at least twice – each – at different times. And last time I checked, there are no bathrooms in the woods. The only trees we’ll find will be scraggly and sappy. Ugly. Miserable.” Basically, I was sure we’d be the Griswolds without the comedic timing and rabid squirrel.
My husband won the debate, though, so on our way home from Thanksgiving in California, we detoured into the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest near Verdi. After one small wrong turn, we found ourselves among other tree-hunters on a bumpy, rocky road into the mountains.
We found a place to park the truck and prepared to pile into what we call “The New Toy” – a four-seater side-by-side recreational vehicle. The sun was shining, but the air was crisp, so I bundled the girls up into snow suits, jackets, hats, gloves and scarves, topped off with body heat from the dog. No chance they’d get cold! We packed a picnic lunch and a thermos of hot chocolate and set out on our adventure.
We passed lots of families on the same adventure, many tailgating with their own picnics. Based on the number of cars we saw strapped with fresh-cut trees, I wouldn’t be surprised if the 4,000 available permits are sold out already! (Click here for more info on permits.)
We cruised the mountain roads inspecting stands of promising-looking pines and comparing our favorites.
“Mommy! Over here! This is the PERFECT tree!”
“Mommy! This tree! This tree! Oh, it’s so beautiful!”
“I found pine cones!”
“Honey, what do you think about incense cedar instead of white pine?”
And then I heard the best thing of all:
“Mommy, Daddy, this is the BEST DAY EVER!”
Cue melted heart, tears of joy, and sighs of relief. Our kids were happy. Really happy! And once again, my husband was right, and I was wrong (do NOT tell him I said that!). It WAS a fun memory-making day. We didn’t argue. No one had to pee. We found a tall tree full of beautifully imperfect branches that looks perfect in our living room. It’s decorated with a lot of chipped ornaments and handmade craft ornaments. They’re not perfect, and neither is our tree. And neither are we. But it’s all beautiful.
I think we started a new family tradition. Maybe we’ll change our minds next year if there’s an early snowfall and we decide that hunting for a tree at Home Depot is just as memorable. But I doubt it.