Every year, with no exception, Christmas comes around. And every year, only interrupted by a heavy cold or a flu some odd years, my dad and I keep our precious tradition: That one where we carry home the Christmas tree.
I love traditions. In a world that inevitably changes, our traditions make room for safety and stability together with a calming sense of belonging and things staying the same. In my family, we have different traditions: for example, we all meet up for my dad’s lamb and cabbage stew each October, and we all meet up for lunch every Constitution Day. When I say all, I mean Chris, myself, my mom and my dad. Ever since my grandparents passed away, it has been important for us to make new traditions.
Some traditions, however, aren’t new at all.
For as long as I can remember, my dad has been taking me with him to pick out our Christmas tree at our local Christmas tree retailer. We’ve always been good at picking out trees, and for some peculiar reason we’ve usually picked out the largest, most luscious ones that reached all the way up to the ceiling. The tree, however, has shrunk in the last decade or so. I don’t know if I can hang this on my minimalist tendencies or something else, but these years I try to pick out a tree that is a bit more modest in size.
You’d think that as I grew older and could carry a greater load of the tree, the tree we picked would grow larger and not smaller. Or perhaps the tree didn’t really grow smaller at all; it’s just that I grew bigger? I thought about that. But, the tree gets measured by how far away from the ceiling its top branch reach, and not by eye measurement.
So, that’s probably not it.
Maybe the tree is getting smaller because I know that a smaller tree would do just as good of a job as a tree than a bigger one. And that it is no point in carrying too heavy of a tree home each December.
As I grow older, I realize that keeping traditions are harder work than before. I guess, as a little girl I didn’t have too much on my plate and just happily came with when my dad said it was time to bring home a tree. Now, as an adult myself, life’s demands often get in the way. Or rather, try to, anyway. Now, the tradition takes a little more planning and a little more engagement than before. And sometimes, I find myself seeing it as more of a chore than a joy.
But, when I think of family traditions, the carrying of the Christmas tree home with my dad is one that I cherish so much. It’s a tradition where I almost get to be that little girl again, walking down the familiar, Christmas adorned streets in a winter covered landscape on our way to pick out this years Christmas tree. Where my dad and I wander amongst the heaps of Christmas trees to pick out the perfect one.
As we pay the tree farmer for the tree,
it’s the same farmer that’s been selling trees here for almost all of the almost thirty something years we’ve been coming here. We exchange a few words with him, as we always do, wishing each other a very, merry Christmas. And we lift the tree up between us, my dad in the front and me in the back, and go on our merry way. Up the hills towards my childhood home.
We take breaks every now and then, as we carry the tree. To shift the carrying hand, and to shift again. Where I come up with something genius to say, and shouts out from the back of the tree. And my dad mumbles from the front of the tree that, he can’t hear me that well all the way from the back. And we exchange a few words on how the tree seems heavier this year, even though we tried our best to pick out a smaller one. We conclude that the stem is probably to blame, as we carry it the last blocks home.
I take my time decorating the Christmas tree after my dad has fitted the lights. With the same ornaments as most years. I even have a particular CD that has to be playing when I decorate. And then, when those familiar tunes of Queen’s Thank God, it’s Christmas stream from the speakers, I know it’s truly Christmas.