Happy Winter! Our longest dark day of the year is over, and we inch back towards the light. But first, in this darkest time, we celebrate the Light that was born on Christmas Day. Part of our celebration is finding the perfect Christmas tree—and by perfect, I mean purposefully found, joyfully brought back to our house, and lovingly decorated. We go to Golden Nursery and Tree Farm, in business since 1958. There are no sleigh rides with Santa, no hot chocolate or holiday goodies to buy—just the experience of walking out into the fir forest, crunching through the snow, to find the perfect tree. With saw in hand, we walked under the old oak sentries standing guard over the young evergreens that will take years to grow into Christmas tree size. We passed by an old ‘boneyard’ of tractors, snowmobiles, and specialized nursery equipment—a rusty, three-dimensional history of the tree farm. We saw strips of standing corn and wondered if the available corn was enough deterrent to keep the deer from destroying the young trees.
The Balsam fir forest was lined with towering pines that must have been pioneers of the tree farm. A light dusting of snow had turned the forest into a winter wonderland, and as we wandered through the rows, we wondered, “Which tree?”
Many of the trees were way too big—they had escaped the saw for decades beyond their prime size. Some had been cut off chest high, taking the pyramid-shaped top and leaving a sprawling, bowl-shaped vesicle from which a branch grew from the side of the trunk into another Christmas-worthy tree!
Some of the trees were too small. They had been carefully planted into a hole in the forest where a larger tree had been cut down. Their development was fresh and promising.
We wandered for a long time—the cold nipped my toes and nose—but the forest was quiet and serene, peaceful and soothing. Chris later joked with the tree man that if he charged by the hour, he would make more money from us.
Finally, we found one that was just right, though we still ‘topped’ it a bit, for what looks relatively small in the big forest will be large in the corner of the living room!
The perfect Christmas tree! Natural, not sheared. Fresh and pliant. Fragrant with the heady smell of Balsam.
Chris sledded the tree gently over the snow, back to the shed where the tree man put it through the baler to wrap it up in twine.
Feel free to breathe deeply! Breathe deeply to feel free! The cycle and circle of life provided by a tree.
Finding the perfect Christmas tree is an experience in and of itself. I derive great pleasure from the process. It also evokes memories of Christmases past—when I was a child, when Chris and I were young newlyweds, when our kids were young, when the three of them, as adults, came to Golden Nursery with us—so many memories of the history of our Christmases. But as we acknowledge and remember the past, we look at the present and give thanks for every breath we breathe (and also thank a tree!) If we are old sentries, how are we looking out for the young ones in our midst? If we are in the prime of our life, how are we serving our families and communities and the world at large? If we are fresh and promising in our development, how do we plant goodness to keep our dreams alive and protected?
I wish you all a Merry Christmas. I wish you purpose, joy, and love. I wish you peace, serenity, and freedom with each breath you take. And in this darkest time, I wish you Light.