Normally I take the easy route when it comes to picking a Christmas tree… I trot down to the corner store at the end of our street that sells spruce trees every year. This year however my husband, Bill, wanted us to go up into the mountains and pick out our own tree and cut it down.
Even without four kids in tow, this is no easy adventure: all the trees along the roadsides have already been picked over, and the snow gets awfully deep when you try to trek into the forest to find a handsome tree. But Bill had a great idea: “we’ll take the horses. They can plow through the snow for us, and we can cover more ground.” Okay, so what about the kids? "Easy," he says. “The oldest can ride her own horse, and the other three I’ll pull along in a sled behind me, and you can pull the Christmas tree behind you after we cut it.”
Sounds simple. But of course it was not. First of all, Bill got this bright idea around 2 pm in the afternoon, so by the time we’d loaded the horses and hauled them up into the mountains (a 45 minute drive), unloaded them, saddled them, and got all the girls trussed up like goose-down sausages, it was already 4 pm and we had about 45 minutes of daylight left in which to find a tree.
As our horses started plowing through snow we soon encountered another problem. Riding horses through the mountains means going up – and what goes up, must eventually come down. That means a heavy sled holding three girls comes down rather FAST – right into the heels of the horse pulling. Riding behind Bill and the girls, I saw the sled starting to gain on him and called out a warning. I figured he’d just drop the rope and pull the horse to the side, but instead he kicks his horse into a gallop to keep ahead of the sled. Which turned out to be the best thing to do because otherwise the sled might have crashed into a tree. Regardless as anyone who has ever gone hill sledding knows, all the kids eventually flipped out of the sled, but they were all giggling and crying out “do it again Daddy, do it again!”
Well, our 45 minutes sped by before we found a good tree, so we ended up backtracking and hunting for trees by flashlight. We cut down two trees we thought might be decent specimens (one for us, one for my parents), but when we got them home and into some proper light, we realized they were perfectly pitiful, skinny, sparse things. I am not a tree snob but I just couldn’t see how there were even enough branches for half my ornaments. Then, I had a light-bulb moment. “Let’s wire them together and see how they look.”
Bill thought I was crazy but he’s a wise man and knows better than to argue with a woman in a Christmas-decorating mood. So he helped me wire the two skinny trees together and lo and behold – a real Christmas tree emerged. I still had to help my mom get a Christmas tree for her house, but I was tickled about our two-tree Christmas tree. You can’t even tell unless you stand up right next to it!
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