Ever since I was a little girl, I enjoyed cutting down our own tree. For a time, it was in my own backyard. My dad would go into the woods behind our house and come back with a gigantic spruce that barely fit under our vaulted ceiling. Even an entire store of ornaments wouldn't have covered a tree that size, so we just focused on the bottom and the section we could reach from the nearby stairs.
One year, my brother and I made what seemed like miles of colorful paper chain and draped it by tossing it up into the air as hard as we could. Wherever it landed, it stayed.
After we sold that house, we started going to actual tree farms -- all of them so large that the business owners offered horse-drawn carriage rides and a map to get you to the type of needle you desired. It was always agony getting it back to the car because I never allowed the family to settle on a nearby tree, preferring instead to venture deep into the woods. For me, the journey was the most exciting part.
I was afraid the tradition wouldn't be the same when I moved to Pennsylvania. Little did I know there is a wonderful tree farm very similar to the ones I visited in my youth close to our new home. It even has reindeer and a barn gift shop heated by an old iron wood-burning stove.
This year, the day we decided to go was perfect. It was a cold mid-week afternoon, so we pretty much had the place to ourselves. There were a dozen or so cars, but the place is so sprawling, we never passed anyone. We did see a beagle, presumably a farm dog, that followed us almost the entire time, but it kept just enough distance to run if we stopped and turned around in hopes of petting it.
After we ventured so far that we could no longer see our car or the baling station, we found the perfect Douglas fir. As I dusted snow off the branches and leaned into the trunk to give it some pressure, Jerry began sawing underneath. It was quiet other than the rythmic friction of the metal on wood, and I couldn't help but breathe in my surroundings -- the cold air, the scent of pine, the gorgeous sprawling mountains in the distance.
Then it hit me.
I can't wait to pass on the tradition to Allison next year.
Jerry next to our tree.
Sawing the base.
Rows and rows of pine.
Later that night, Jerry summoned his inner troll doll.
And, believe it or not, it was just from friction, not sap.