Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Oh Christmas Tree

We were recently gifted a "Treasury of Christmas Tales" from a friend whose child has grown. During the month of December, our kids looked forward to selecting a story before bedtime and listening to the magic of Christmas come alive at their bedside. Many of the stories I'd never heard before, but a few sparked sweet memories of long ago.

I made the mistake of giving in and continuing to read from this book after Christmas. "I'll quit at the New Year," I told myself. My timing couldn't have been worse. 

On New Year's Eve, we wrapped up the great Christmas storytelling month with "Oh Christmas Tree," a story about a young girl who begged her family to get a straggly tree off the live lot rather than a large, full one. The struggling tree went on to serve her family well through December, and then she begged them to plant it in the backyard. Her whole family knew the tree (with no ball) would never grow, but they carried out her plan and planted the tree. And it began to grow! And continued to grow! And it became magical! And it provided much joy to that family in the backyard for many years. The end. 

On January 1, 2021, we decided to haul our own live Christmas tree out of the house. 

"Can we keep it?" Caroline asked as soon as she heard we were removing it. She hugged the lower branches gently as though it were a friend. 

"No, honey, we can't. It's losing needles and Christmas is over," I told her, not even thinking about the bedtime story from the night before. Ornaments came off. Lights came off. 26,938 needles came off. Water was dumped out. And the tree went to the barn lot. 

Hours later, we were working outside when my husband asked me to pull the Ranger around so he could load up the tree. 

"Are you taking it for a ride?!" Caroline asked with great enthusiasm. 

"Yeah. To the burn pile," Cody responded without thought. "Load up, everyone." (Some families take Sunday drives. We take trips to the burn pile.) 

Then I heard the loudest, most broken-hearted, "Nooo, Daddy, nooo!" I've ever heard. "That's my friend! We need to plant it in the backyard so it will grow magic for a life!" she cried out. 

Cody and I looked at each other. We're raising the most tender-hearted little girl, and while this scene unfolds, her little brother begins kicking the down Christmas tree, watching needles fly. We've got two very different kids. 

We went on to explain that Christmas trees such as ours aren't able to be replanted. Also, that the beauty and fun of Christmas is finding and cutting down a new tree each year. Finally calming down, she asked if we could chop the tree up and burn it in our fireplace, which I thought was a little morbid after the dramatic scene we'd just witnessed, but I do often remind the kids that if you chop your own wood you'll warm yourself twice. 

The four of us loaded up and rode to the southernmost part of our land to the burn pile. I distracted Caroline with silly conversation while Cody dumped the tree in its final resting place. We didn't need any ceremonial and prayerful goodbyes as we had for the last possum we trapped in our feed room. 

Oh, to be a little child with great big feelings for every living thing again. 

I guess it could be worse. She could fall in love with one of our freezer beef steers.