Every year my family and I pull on our rain boots, wrap scarves around our necks, and pull hats on our heads and set off together to find a Christmas tree. We live in the Pacific Northwest, where trees are grown in abundance for this purpose. There’s always a chill in the air and excitement, too, because somewhere among all those fir and noble trees at the lot near us is our Christmas tree. If only we can find it!
It’s almost like a game, Christmas tree hunting.
We all laugh as we weave our way in and around the trees, looking at each one to find the right color, size, shape, and scent. The dogs get into the game too, sniffing and running in circles to figure out where their people are going. Somewhere from another row we’ll hear a voice, “I found a good one!” and everyone else in the family will go scurrying through the trees to see the treasure. We walk around and around it, assessing its beauty and merits, marveling at it’s perfection.
Soon we find the one for us (and of course whoever finds it first stands near it proudly as if to claim the prize!). My husband and son lay down on the cold ground to cut the base of the tree. It usually is getting dark by that point and we are all shivering and dreaming of being back in our warm house.
Every year as we haul our tree to the car, we remember that we forgot to bring the step stool so we could better reach to get the tree up on top of the car, but that’s okay. We laugh. We’ve done this many times before. We fling the tree up over our heads and climb around in and out of doors and around limbs to tie that tree down as best we can.
We we grab a cup of cider for the road with frozen hands and blast the Christmas songs loud through the stereo speaker all the way home, quietly hoping and praying the tree doesn’t slip down any further to impact our view out the front window.
Tree hunting is a family tradition.
Until one year when it wasn’t. We were busy and had a lot going on that week. I had a perfectly lovely faux tree already set up in our house for a blog project. I had just completed and it was already decorated and ready to go. I had spent a lot of time getting that tree just right, and now I was tired.
I welcomed the idea of staying in from the cold that weekend and baking instead. It made sense to me, I felt ahead of the game!
As soon as I decided we’d just use the tree we had, my teen son walked through the room and said, “Mom, when are we going to get our tree?” I explained that we already had a tree and motioned toward the decorated one in our front room. I could see by the look on his face he was crushed, disappointed.
I didn’t realize how much it had meant to him.
So right then and there we grabbed our mittens and hats, leashed up the dogs and all piled into the car once again. We circled around the tree farm looking for the perfect one for us. I stepped back, watching my kids as they were laughing, wandering around the farm together just like every other year.
But, this year, I almost missed it because I had invested my energy in the wrong tree!
I felt so grateful that my son’s simple request to go tree hunting reminded me of what mattered most to us.
It wasn’t about the tree. It is about seeking and finding joy in what is sacred to us.
It’s easy, isn’t it? To become disconnected when we are just going through the motions of the holiday decorating, meal preparations, or even the motions of our faith?
We fall asleep when we are simply putting check marks in the boxes of our to do list without even letting it sink in what it all means. It takes a deliberate slowing down and refocusing, not just to do less things so we will have more time for other things we want to do, but to pay attention to what really matters to us.
True joy comes when we seek and treasure the real gift, the sacredness of what He did for us on that Holy night.
What do you find yourself distracted by right now, in this season? What could you set aside or refocus on in order to fully seek and treasure His gift this year?
by Melissa Michaels, The Inspired Room
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
The sacredness may not be just in the act itself…the cutting of the tree or the baking of the cookies, but in the relationship of those participating. Just like our faith is not like checking off a to do list…no, it’s in the relationship that is forged in the process. Trying, this year, to put more emphasis on the relationship with the people with whom I’m preparing for the King’s arrival. Thanks for a needed reminder…
Brandi Luiz says
I am so broken hearted about the season this year, because we won’t get to do the tree hunt as a family. My oldest and her husband moved several states away and my youngest has only limited time away from college. It’s a new season of life and I am so struggling with it.
Thank you for sharing!
Pam Wilson says
Brandi, I understand how hard change is for us Moms especially. My two grown children and their spouses (and beautiful granddaughter) live far away in opposite sides of the country. It isn’t possible for us all to be together for Christmas. I give myself permission to be sad and then move on and think of ways to make some special memories anyway. I will send them each some goodies as that is special at our house. I’ve also chosen to babysit for some young moms where I live so they can have time to make a special Christmas for their little ones. I have found that getting involved in giving always helps. Also, remembering that the season is about sharing what God did for us in sending Jesus. That alone is my reason for joy. Hugs to you, Pam
Brandi Luiz says
Thank you, Pam for your encouragement. I will be looking for opportunities to serve as you have suggested. Thank you! blessings,
Micah Maddox says
There are so many things that distract me this time of year. This year I’m choosing to simplify decorations. I actually decorated early so I wouldn’t feel rushed and crazy once December hit. It’s already taken a load off to have the tree lit and boxes stored away as we embark on December. We are also focussing on those who don’t have rather than on our own wish lists this year. It truly is better to give than to recieve.
Melissa, This is so good! I am loving the many reminders I am getting from (in)courage about remembering what truly matters during the holidays. We need to hold tight to what is sacred, embrace every second, and not get lost in the busyness of the holidays.
Rebecca Jones says
True joy comes when we seek and treasure the real gift, the sacredness of what He did for us on that Holy night. What a beautiful thought.
Melissa, it is SO easy to get distracted by the doing, and totally miss the joy of simply being. Being a family together, making memories, laughing together. we usually end up buying our tree in a tree lot, but we always do real. We decorated early this year–this past weekend–and I was amazed at how much our boys looked forward to it!
As our family heads into a chaotic season, I’m praying and choosing stillness each day. I hope to instill some of that into our boys as well. Rather than getting caught up in all the doing, I hope we can simply be, enjoy our favorite movies and do special things as a family. They are my gift. I’m praying that I can give the gift of an open, seeking heart to the Lord this Christmas season.
Beth Williams says
My family had “Bruce the blue spruce” (fake) tree. I loved putting it together and decorating it. Now my hubby and I use a “Charlie Brown” tree. It is nice and just right for the two of us with the Jesse ornaments I received last year. For me this time of year is about slowing down and enjoying time with family! This year I want to be more intentional and realize what this day is all about–not the gifts, etc. but the best gift of all-Jesus born of a virgin!!
We have a tree tradition in our house to we have our regular tree farm we go to and we choose a tree as a family. Our eldest is 19 and home from college for the summer holidays and I thought maybe since he had moved away from home that maybe he would not be interested in a live tree this year but when I asked the other day if he wanted a live tree this year he said yes. I Love the Tree thing because it is not about the tree it is about us as a family spending time together,doing a family activity together.
Nancy Wolfe @ livingcenter.me says
As my family grows and things change, I have to remind myself to be grateful for the years we were able to create the memories and celebrate our traditions – even if they became modified or shortened or even impossible as time went by. And, as others have said, perpetuating the tradition is really not even as important as caring about those who shared those seasons with us.
I’m especially mindful of those for whom the traditions can never be the same, not this year or ever again. It will be their first Christmas “without…” For those, I pray that the memory of their traditions will bring a bit of comfort.
God bless us all as we navigate through this complicated world, xoxox