To kick-off the Christmas season, my family always selects a Christmas tree on the first weekend of Advent. During the short car ride to Maple Row Farm, we have the annual argument over the shape of the perfect spruce. Upon arrival, the strong aroma of evergreen and cheerful Christmas music dance in the cool breeze. After receiving a tag for the tree, we purchase two hot chocolates and two coffees to stay warm. Following our traditional family photo in front of the farm’s sign, we begin scavenging the heavily picked-over fields. We split up. During the next hour, we scurry around the trees, each hoping to be the one to find this year’s Christmas tree. Each time someone spots a contender, we unite to critique their selection, and after inspecting the angle of the trunk, needle texture, health, and shape, we either abandon, tag, or cut it. Finally, we compromise on a tree that will last until the new year. Everyone takes a turn using the saw, but my dad always makes the most progress. After a few mini-candy canes, my dad has loaded the tree onto the roof of the car, and we are already headed home to decorate.
I always forget how many ornaments we have as I help bring the boxes downstairs from the attic. The clear, glass balls are always hung first. Immediately after, we add the silver pears, and the delicate, snow white angel is then gently placed on the top. As we arrange the special ornaments, I’m extra cautious, for I can only imagine the consequences for shattering my parents’ glass “First Christmas Together” ornament, or accidentally tearing one of the fragile Russian dolls, which my mom has superstitions about. My favorite ornaments are those that remind me of shared family experiences, like the Loch Ness monster ornament from Scotland, where we went on a boat in search of Nessie, or the Polar Express that sings Christmas carols, from the time my parents took Lexi and me on a train, and convinced us we’d gotten off at “the North Pole.” I hope to collect more ornaments over the next year, so that the tree can display even more memories.