I grew up on 40 acres of land below the snowy coastal mountains of Northern B.C. The trees were plentiful and there was a science to finding the right one for Christmas. Perhaps even some deep rooted wisdom. Here is my dad’s guide to finding the perfect Christmas tree (and solving some of life’s other problems):
- Start looking early. June is late.
- Mom will give you parameters. Know them. Get creative with them. Once it’s in the house, she won’t complain.
- Do your research. A black spruce will lose all its needles the day after Christmas.
- Never walk the back-40 without a roll of flagging tape. You’ll regret 100 percent of the perfect trees you didn’t flag.
- A good tree has pine cones. A better tree won’t lose them all in the process of getting home.
- A tree that looks perfect in the distance is probably two trees.
- Don’t cut down more than you need. The top eight feet only looked good with the other 12 feet intact
- Be gracious. There are no flawless trees. Be smart. Put the less-perfect side against the wall.
- Never walk in the same direction two years in a row. Each forest can only grow a handful of Christmas-ready trees. Don’t push your luck.
Perfect or not, each year, the tree was our gathering place. We opened presents around it, yes. But the moments I remember most warmly are those that took place just after my mom called down the basement stairs: “Can you put the hockey sticks away for a moment? Tomorrow your brother is heading back to university and I want us to pray together.” As a family, we’re more likely to talk theology or sermon notes than swap personal testimonies. But during those end-of-the-holidays prayers, our gear shifted and the Spirit transcended. We each spoke our prayer requests aloud and took turns praying for each other. Before we knew it, even the standard prayers for safe travels were weighted with emotion.
This will be my first Christmas with a child of my own. So we’ll gather around that tree for the first time as a three-generation family and I’ll trust that in the years to come, he learns to choose trees wisely and pray wholeheartedly.
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