So after today we have 9 days 'til Christmas. As of last night, we here in the Denver area still do not have any snow on the ground. I think that is due to the fact that I got my snow blower ready at least a month ago. But it is getting colder at night. It is nice to watch the Christmas tree in our living room. Every year it seems that we do it up perfect. 'Course, how can you go wrong with a fake tree that has all the lights already on it? Just unbox it, set it in a tree stand, fluff some branches, add decorations, plug that sucker in, and you have your tree done. You know, it is fast and you save some money every year. But, I still sometimes want to have a real tree. Yeah, they can be a pain. But to me, a real tree is more about Christmas.
When I was a little kid we knew it was Christmastime at home when we went out and got the Christmas tree. I can remember going out in the snow, in the car, with my great grandfather and my sister and maybe a few of my cousins. We would jump in Papa's 1960 Chevy Biscayne. (This was my first car -- the HOOPY as we called it.)
We would drive up in the hills around Fraser, Colorado. We would take some hot chocolate, sandwiches, and some fruit. When we arrived at the forest entrance, the ranger at the gate would check our permit. The snow was deep and the wind had a bite to it. When we found a place to pull off the road we had to be sure that we were not going to get stuck. Then we all would take off and look for that perfect tree. Sometimes it didn't take too long, other times it seemed to take hours.
Once the tree was found, Papa would let us take turns cutting the tree down. When it was cut, we then had to find our way back to the car. Once at the car, we kids would get in, Papa would start the car, and he would proceed to tie the tree to the top of the car. By the time he had done that the car was nice and warm. We would finish up the hot chocolate and sandwiches, then make our way back to Mama & Papa's house in Kremmling.
When we would get to their house, we kids would rush in and Mama would stop us at the back door. She would make us brush off all the snow, take off our wet socks, and she would hand us each a pair of warm socks that she had setting in the oven. I can remember how warm they felt on my feet and how warm their little house was. Papa would bring the tree in and Mama had everything ready. The stand was in front of the big window, and several boxes of decorations were open and waiting. We would decorate the tree, listen to Christmas carols, and drink so much hot chocolate that our grandparents thought we would burst. We never really spent Christmas with them, that I can remember. But they were always at our house on Christmas Eve.
I thought about it, and I think we only had a real tree for Christmas maybe 12 times or so in my lifetime. Maybe next year we will have a real tree. I'm sure once it is up and decorated all of those memories, sights, sounds, and smells of Christmases past will come flooding back. Thoughts of family and friends who have passed will bring a tear or two, as well as the joy that Christmas brings every year.
I hope that all of you will have a Christmas that brings you all together, and hope that loved ones who are overseas or away from home make it home for Christmas.
So, have a mug of hot chocolate or a big glass of eggnog and hug the people that are here with you now. Hang up some extra mistletoe. It never hurts to give out a few more kisses. Be kind to others, always.
Our family wishes all of you and yours a very MERRY CHRISTMAS!