December 19th, 2018
An afternoon adventure took place on Monday that will remain as one to remember. It began with an idea at the start of the holiday month. This year was about “economizing”. Our family had decided to celebrate the festive season with less focus on presents. My dog walking friend joined us in taking economizing measures. She chose to forgo getting a bought Christmas tree as her husband has been working out of town and expenses needed to be kept down. Still, our daily walks with the dogs were peppered with discussions about Christmas trees. Like me, my friend would admire past Christmas trees throughout the holidays with the lights off – just the tree, the fur kids and a human. The smell of pine needles in the air and the display of ornaments collected through the years were treasured by both of us. I had to act. She was “pining” on our daily morning walk through the forested trail, for a natural tree. My friend was willing to settle for a Charlie Brown variety and I decided that an intervention was called for. Bailey and I had a vital mission to locate a suitable candidate. The tree had to be tall and slender to fit in my friend’s living room. It had to be close to the packed trail because of sinking issues in deep snow. More importantly, the tree needed to be close to home. Last weekend, the search was over and I smiled to myself as the talk of not having a tree for the holidays came up. Oh, how I wanted to squeal my idea.
Almost always, my ideas involve my husband in some way. I announced my intention to him and gave assurances that the tree was neither too big to get home nor far away. It would be fun, I exclaimed. After all, the first 13 years of our marriage were spent making our way into the bush to find the perfect Charlie Brown tree in northern Manitoba. The tree would leak sap on the flooring and drop what little needles that it had by Boxing Day. Tree hunting day was always characterized by being the coldest day in the entire month. We were determined back then. The VW Golf was fired up in colder than minus thirty temperatures (making a screeching noise like a banshee that continued until the engine warmed up) and off we went. The search for the tree was often not long as my pickiness for the perfect tree waned due to the cold. Once the tree was dug out, cut and loaded on top of the car (by my husband), we clambered back inside to warm ourselves up. This part was my favourite because it involved hot chocolate and cookies that had been packed. On Monday, after a 12-year hiatus, we once again ventured out into the woods to get a Christmas tree. Buying our tree for over a decade had made us soft.
Fortunately, the day was not -34 degrees Celsius as it had been only a week before. The sun was out. The sky was blue. It was a balmy -4 degrees Celsius and no wind. Bailey was part of the plot in case we came across my friend walking her dog. We were taking our girl out for her afternoon outing. The axe and saw that my husband was carrying might have been hard to explain. Bailey was just thrilled to have both of us taking her and scampered ahead. We made our way along the trail as my husband noticed that the trees closest to our house were not Christmas tree material. He was right. They looked more suited to a haunted forest. I assured him that the trees improved after climbing the big rock and going down the other side. He reminded me several times that the tree had to be hauled back. Finally, we came to the tree. Bailey had enough sense to move far enough back to avoid getting hit. I needed to be reminded. The tree was located slightly off the trail which meant my husband sank up to his waist in snow. He used both tools to cut the top portion of the 15 foot tree. As he did it, I couldn’t help singing “It’s going down. I’m yelling Timber!” as Bailey watched the proceedings. The tree finally hit the ground and my husband tidied up the base. Bailey dashed forward and gave the tree the sniff over – leaving a dribble of drool behind.
We were off, giddy with excitement. Our tree hunt had unleashed a flood of memories for the two of us. We reminisced about the old days when getting a Charlie Brown tree kicked off our holiday season. Our threesome made our way back towards home. While my husband waited outside with our special gift, I phoned my friend and asked if we could stop by. Thankfully, she is only 5 houses away and my husband’s arms were revived enough to make the final journey with the tree held over his shoulder. We arrived, tree in hand. It is moments like this one that you remember. She was surprised by and thrilled with this unexpected gift. In doing this for her, we also had been gifted with a beautiful afternoon together. An afternoon focused not on the endless list of holiday tasks but, on being outdoors on a perfect winter day with our girl, Bailey.