As a child, one of my favorite memories was going with the family to pick out a Christmas Tree. It was a Big Event, and I couldn't wait for that one day of the year. My father always insisted that we get a "real" tree because of the scent that wafted throughout the house, and to this day the smell of evergreens always reminds me of Christmas.
I remember many times going with my dad, mom and sister Sarah to pick out the tree. There were a few different places we'd go, and each place had a different feel - Roger's Orchard was always bustling; there was a tree farm that made me feel very insignificant and small, physically - but through it all, I remembered my dad and mom talking, moving from tree to tree, spinning trees around to find the better side or if there were any holes in the branches, banging the tree on the ground to shake out it's branches and see how full the tree really was.
I remember the different discussions between my parents: the types of trees they liked, tall and skinny, short and full, or tall and full. I remember them talking about where they were going to put it, how they were going to stand the tree up so the cats didn't knock it over. I remember the feeling of anticipation: this tree, no this one is better, no wait, this is a great one, no, let's go back with that other...OH NO! THIS is it!
I remember times of going out onto a tree farm, my dad with a saw in hand, to cut down the trees. I remember, that same tree farm, feeling like we were going to get lost in the stands of trees and being astonished that dad knew where to go.
I remember hot chocolate and peppermint candy canes. Driving home through the snow with the tree on top of the car, feeling all toasty warm bundled up in blankets. I remember wreaths and garlands of fresh greens. I remember getting home and dad cutting off the bottom of the tree, readying it to put into the tree stand. I remember mom and dad debating on how straight the tree was, and if it was secure enough. I remember helping dad untangle the lights, while mom was going through the boxes of ornaments. I remember the angel reverently being placed upon the top of the tree.
Mostly, I remember how this is what made Christmas feel like Christmas, and family's importance in this holiday. It is these memories and traditions that I'd like to pass on to my own 3 year old and infant, and why I will always insist on a "real, live tree"!