About 8 years ago exactly, I started teaching seminary, an early morning religious education class for teens in my home each morning. I have a smallish home, so this always presented some challenges and my family always rose to the occasion by being supportive and uncomplaining. This included having their home decorated with motivational posters, charts and white boards, setting up chairs every night, etc. One unique sacrifice they made was adjusting for our Christmas tree. It had to be able to fit in with the students. This is a significant adjustment for my kids because we love our Tree Traditions. About 3 years ago we put on an addition that helped a lot with the space issues, but we still had to make sure the tree and the students could coexist. So, some years that meant a rather small tree. A couple of years it meant waiting until school let out and we could put everything away to even get a tree. One year we couldn't get a tree until Christmas Eve.
When I stopped teaching seminary back in June, one of the first things the kids said was, "This year we can get a giant Christmas Tree!" You see, the above-mentioned addition has a gracefully high ceiling. The kids have always envisioned a tree centered in front of the window, reaching all the way to that ceiling. This year, we have endeavored to make that dream come true.
Usually, we go cut our tree, but because of an unusually busy schedule and the fact that we blew it by not going Thanksgiving weekend, we could not fit that in this year. But, we made it an adventure anyway. Thus last night, in the bitter cold, the kids bundled up in their winter wear (you know it's cold when I talk them into something warmer than a hoodie!) and we drove and drove and drove...to Ellicott City (about 8 miles away). Not the rural part of Ellicott City, where all the pretty farms are, no, we drove to the Y of Central Maryland across from the Target. Because of course, they had Big Christmas Trees. I had noticed while near there last weekend. We got out of the car, ready for the thrill of the hunt and that wonderful debate and then consensus about the perfect tree. The anticipation was running high. Cheeks were actually rosy in the 8 degree windchill. We began to wander through the winter wonderland of evergreens towering over us, looking for the red tags that indicated the second-to-the-tallest ones. What fun.
Exactly 4 minutes later, with rosy cheeks threatening frostbite in the insidious wind, we gratefully followed as the friendly tree guy showed us one that was in the lower price range but was on the taller side. Everyone unanimously approved with no debate whatsoever, desperate to get out of the cold. 10 minutes later it was netted and tied to the car and we headed for warmer places. What an adventure! 14 mintues to find a tree. A new record! But what a tree! After some initial worry upon seeing it netted and tied to our big truck that it really wasn't that tall, we got it home and it unfurled to its full height and girth. It is a beauty! Here are the photos of Phase I, the Getting of The Tree. Stay tuned for Phase II, The Decorating.