Over the years my kids have made it their mission to find the most beautiful, ugly Christmas tree they can find each year. You can read about our experience last year here. This year was no different. Except that maybe the ugly beauty came more from perseverance than from the tree itself.
Because of college, sports and work schedules it quickly became evident that if we were going to get a freshly cut Christmas tree this year only half of us were going to be able to go. That meant on a cold Wednesday in early December I set out with our two youngest and our little pick up truck to get our tree.
By the time we made it out of the school parking lot, drove to the tree farm, and parked we had about sixty minutes to find the “perfect” tree, get it cut down, and loaded into the truck. We grabbed a hand saw, and set out past people wheeling trees in wheelbarrows up to the baling area.
We looked out on an entire meadow of trees that were about chest high. Hundreds of them. Probably perfect for an apartment or small space, but we need a sturdy tree. One that can hold twenty plus years worth of ornaments. So we started our trek toward the outskirts of the farm. We often find our “best” trees on the outskirts.
We walked the entire perimeter of the farm before finding our tree. It looked a little big to me, but the girls insisted this was THE ONE.
We circled around it. Trying to decide which was going to be the best angle to cut from. There was no good angle. The tree was so full that we had to attack the branches from about four feet out. The girls tried to hold the lower branches up, and I pushed in head first, to start cutting. By hand. This massive tree.
Back and forth I sawed, and sawed. Until my arms started to burn. I stopped to check the progress. I had maybe gone about a half inch. I took a deep breath and started again. Back and forth. Back and forth. Maybe a quarter inch this time. I was breathing heavy and starting to sweat. Back and forth. Back and forth. The girls tried to rock the tree a bit to see if it would help. They couldn’t. And it didn’t. Another deep breath. Back and forth. Back and forth. I started to feel a little light headed and stopped. I stood back and looked. I was maybe a third of the way through. And that was generous. The girls each took a turn, but their arms weren’t long enough to reach to the trunk in the depths of this tree.
At this point we knew there was no going back. The tree would die if we left it. But it was also starting to get dark. Back and forth. Back and forth. Breathe. Breathe. Back and forth. Back and forth. Breathe. Maybe halfway through. Maybe.
The girls said that each time I emerged from under the tree I looked more and more disheveled. The volume of my hair increased with each trip under the tree. Thank goodness they had the good sense not to take pictures of that. 😂
Back and forth. Back and forth. Breathe. Stretch. Regroup. Back and forth. Back and forth. At this point the back part of the saw started to bump into the massive trunk. This meant I had to shorten the strokes. Back and forth. Back and forth. Back and forth. Breathe. Stretch. Breathe. Back and forth. Back and forth. Back and forth. A little more than halfway through. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. The sun was setting. We were nowhere close to being through the tree trunk. AND we were still on the outskirts of the farm. We needed a new plan. A new angle. Literally. I tried to go from the other side. But it proved too difficult to keep the same cut line I had started on the other side.
Still in need of a new plan, I decided to send the girls back to the parking area to ask for permission to drive our truck back to the tree. Because even if by some miracle I managed to get through this tree we didn’t know how we were going to drag it all the way to the front of the farm. In the dark.
So off they went in the direction of the truck and back into the middle of the tree I went. This time I had a new determination. A new strength. This tree was coming down. With tiny but strong saw strokes I went at the trunk with all that I had. Back and forth. Back and forth. Back and forth. And then I noticed a little movement in the tree. I was able to push it over a bit so I could finish it with big saw strokes. And then the tree fell. Hallelujah! I yelled out to the girls, “I GOT IT!” No answer. “Okay if you can hear me, keep going to the truck. We’re going to need it.”
I started dragging the tree toward the dirt road on the edge of the property. Slowly. This big boy was heavy. At twilight I heard the rumble and saw our truck barreling down the dirt road. Ava pulled up. We looked at the truck. And the tree. Now how were we going to get it INTO the truck? It took all three of us lifting and pulling with all our might but we got that tree into the truck just as the last bit of sunlight fell behind the hills.
And then we laughed. And giggled. And laughed some more. Laughed at the tree we chose. Laughed at how long it took to cut it down. Laughed at what my hair looked like when it was all said and done. And laughed at this giant tree spilling over the sides of the pickup truck to the point that the mirrors were useless.
I love this messy, imperfect, ugly, beautiful tree. We will forever remember it. Forever remember how we worked together. Remember how we laughed. And remember how strong we really are when we need to be.
“It is strength that endures the unendurable and spills over into joy, thanking the Father who makes us strong enough to take part in everything bright and beautiful that He has for us.” ~1 Colossians 1:11-12