Picking out the Christmas Tree

I wait all year for this day. The first Saturday in December. It’s the official start of the Christmas season in our house. It’s the day we pick out our family Christmas tree.

And we don’t just show up and say, “yah, we’ll take that one.” Nope. It’s an event. We wait until nightfall. We bundle up in hats and gloves and scarves, and we go to the same tree lot we’ve been going to since my oldest was an only. The Christmas music is blaring. The flood lights are shining down on all the magnificent trees. The wreathes are adorned with red bows and you can literally feel Christmas.

Now, I don’t know if y’all get excited during this time of year, but for me, it’s like a rebirth of my childhood, and I’m as excited as the kids – maybe even more so.

We walk around and look at the tallest of trees, wishing of course, that we could indeed fit a 10-foot tree in our living room.

Moving on, we begin our search. Our tree must be strong, the branches need to hold our hundreds – literally hundreds – of ornaments. It’s got to be full, got to have room at the tippity top for the Star…or the beautiful Angel that I bought while living on my own in my 20s, and try to persuade the kids to let me put up, but inevitably lose out to the multicolored Star. But I digress.

And when we find the perfect tree, we form a circle around it, like the Who’s down in Whoville – and we sing, “Bahoo bores dahoo dores, welcome welcome Christmas day…” (*I know those aren’t the real words, but does anybody really know them?)

And then we all hug the tree to make it officially “our” tree. Well, not all of us. Hubby takes the pic of me and the kids hugging the tree. I think that’s just his excuse for not looking like a lunatic, hugging a tree in the middle of the lot.

After tipping the tree guy and making sure our tree is absolutely not falling off, we head out, and once we get home, it’s hot cocoa, Christmas music and all things tree-decorating!

The first floor is then filled with bins, boxes and bows. There’s a bin of just Christmas lights and garland. Another 4-5 bins of just ornaments. And there’s a special Campbell Soup tin with all of the ornaments that I collected in my 20s from The Christmas Place.

Let me explain The Christmas Place. It’s not just a store, it’s an event. When you walk up to the front door, two ginormous Nutcrackers are displayed on each side. To the right, a window into a train set that goes through tunnels, and villages, and all things snow & snowmen. The kids line up outside to watch it steam past, and it’s the first thing the kids run to as soon as they enter the store.

Once you walk in, you first hear the music…and then the absolute best smell in the world…Christmas. It’s hot cocoa & fudge, it’s nutmeg & cinnamon. As you walk through the store, you’ll see Santa’s Village and if you’ve timed it right, you can even see Santa and give him your Christmas list!

There’s an entire room of just trees. Decorated. Glowing. Stunningly beautiful trees. And as I walk through it with my husband and kids, I am always brought back to that time in my 20s, when I first came to this store, single & alone, hoping to someday have a family to walk through this magical place with.

In my 20s, I was broke. College educated. Working 3 jobs. Paying for rent. Broke. But, come October 15th, when the Christmas Place opened it’s doors, I would dig through the bottom of my purse for change and a few singles and head to The Christmas Place. I’d wander around the beautifully decorated Christmas store, and pick out one ornament. Over the years I’d built up quite a collection and placed them in that old Campbell Soup tin.

Every year when that tin is brought down from the attic, I take a minute to remember that girl. I take a minute to reflect and appreciate how far I’ve come. How blessed I have been.  And as the kids place them gently on the tree, I get a little weepy. I am filled with love for this life, for this time of year and the memories we are making.

I can’t wait.

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