Friday, December 2, 2016

The Best Christmas Prep Day Ever

The Best Christmas Prep Day Ever   
We do lots of things to get ready for Christmas.

From what I observe many folks have a specific Christmas Preparation Routine. We could call it CPR. Well that’s probably not a good idea since that acronym is already taken. 

One task I like to get done as soon as possible after Thanksgiving is put up our Christmas tree. We get a real tree. We’re actually one of the few households I know of that does not have an artificial one. 

Mind you, my husband would like to go the fake tree route but I really love having a real evergreen all decked out in our living room. I must admit that I appreciate him putting up with my folly in the matter and he is willing to mount the tree once I get it home. Once secured in the tree stand, it’s my baby.

This year—just a few days ago—I invited our locally-residing grandchildren to go with me to get our conifer. I had no specific specie in mind and I had no specific grandchild/ren in mind either.

The high schoolers all had swim practice. At age twelve, Hampton is not yet eligible for the high school swim team, so was the only one available to go.
In recent years, I’ve purchased trees from the Lion’s Club, a tree farm or a grocery store parking lot. 

Our tree needs to be on the skinny side because our living room is not large, but we want it to be as tall as possible because we have a vaulted ceiling. So—tall and skinny, and fits within our budget, is actually hard to fine. I five foot tall tree would just not be fitting in our log home.

Well, this year was different. Some friends offered to let us get a tree from their wooded property. 

When I told Hampton we’d be cutting our own tree out in the woods I don’t know which of us was more thrilled. 

I have fond memories of tree hunting as a child as well as with our two sons in years gone by. How delighted I was to get to take one of my grandchildren on a Christmas tree acquisition excursion! 

Having artificial trees in their own homes, our grandchildren have always been enamored by our real Christmas tree. In fact just a few days earlier, Hampton asked me when we would get our tree and would it be a real one. He added that he liked our having a real tree. (If the day ever comes when we surrender to having an artificial tree, we’ll have eight disappointed grandchildren and one disappointed granny.)

So Hampton and I headed for the woods—gloves, saw and rope loaded into the car. I could tell he was excited as we wound our way through the country and finally up a dirt road through the woods to my friend’s house. 

We donned our jackets and gloves, and he clutched the saw with much anticipation, and we started trekking up the wooded mountain side. On the inside, I was praising God for giving me the opportunity to have this unique experience with my grandson and I asked Him to let Hampton always remember our adventure. 

I also prayed that we would find our prize quickly because with the overcast sky, daylight would soon escape us. 

We sized up several trees as we moved upward to check out more possibilities. My friend and her two little boys marched through the forest with us. Their little eyes watched every move of the bigger boy, Hampton. They were obviously enjoying the outing too.

Each tree we considered seemed to have some major flaw. The forest is not like a tree farm, full of rows and rows of well groomed, near-perfect specimens.
Soon Hampton said (again), “What about that one?” pointing down the hill about forty feet away. 

I answered, “I believe that will work. It’s tall enough and not terribly big in diameter. It’s a little sparsely limbed and a bit one-sided but I think we can make it work. Let’s get it.” 

Down over the small embankment Hampton went, trusty saw in hand. He was fired up to finally cut down our Christmas tree.  

Within a few minutes we all yelled, “Timber!”

It was evident that this young feller needed a hand in getting the felled tree turned around, up the hill and onto the path. So over the bank I inched, hoping to do no further damage to the knee for which I’d been undergoing physical therapy for the past several weeks. 

With no small  effort, we got the tree up the embankment, then down the mountain and situated in the back of my Subaru. Hampton was a little taken aback when he realized we would not be able to close the rear door for the tree extended out a couple feet beyond the opening. Our find was about 11 feet tall.

We said our thank yous and good byes to our friends and headed for home with the base of the trunk resting on the console between the young lumberjack and me. 

For Hampton this was a new, fun, memorable experience. For me it was indeed fun and memorable. Greater still, it was a precious relationship building occasion with a beloved child. 

Driving home my sidekick excitedly asked when we could decorate the tree and did I have any eggnog.

I said hopefully Do-Daddy (my husband) could set the tree in its stand and have it ready to decorate by tomorrow. Though a little disappointed not to do it now, be both had something special to look forward to the next day. 

As we drove along I glanced at Hampton several times with his gloved hand resting on the tree trunk between us. He was charged with making sure it didn’t begin to slide out the back door while traveling. (I knew, of course, that with the securing rope and bungee cords our prize was in no danger.)

My heart swelled thinking of the memory we had just constructed—this precious grandchild and me. I realized that this was one of the best Christmas prep days I’d ever experienced and asked God to plant this memory deep into Hampton’s mind and heart. Those of you with grandchildren know exactly what I’m saying.

I also prayed that for many future Christmases after I’m no longer around to trek through the woods, Hampton will smile and recall our adventure and determine in his heart to make lasting memories with his own children and grandchildren. 

Once our tree was mounted the next day, my husband remarked, “That’s the ugliest tree we’ve ever had.” 

With wide-eyed surprise, Hampton jerked his head toward me.

I grinned at him and said, “I think it’s the most beautiful one we’ve ever had.” With that, a smile of relief relaxed his face.

From my perspective it really was—and is. At the time of this writing this gangly pine is sitting in our living room, shining with love. My dear husband just doesn’t see what I see. 
Hampton & Granny 2016

With Christmas music playing in the background, Hampton and I drank egg nog and adorned our tree with lights and ornaments. A bonus for me was the sweet privilege of describing the origin of many a decoration as we hung each on the flimsy limbs. Some of the items were made by his daddy and his uncle when they were young boys. Some I had made many years ago and others were special gifts. Many were from loved ones who have already gone to Heaven and no longer join us around our Christmas dinner table. I pointed out my favorites and we talked about the nativity, as he examined each tiny baby Jesus. 

For Hampton and me, this Christmas season has gotten off to a wonderful start. I knew it would be fun to take him into the woods to cut a tree, but as God does so well, we came away with much more than just a tree.

I hope you will take time to enjoy meaningful occasions with your loved-ones this Christmas season. I’m already looking for more opportunities myself. After all I have seven other grandchildren!

God bless you and Merry Christmas!

©Connie Wohlford 2016


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks for sharing your precious son with me. And thanks for stopping by my blog!

  2. I so enjoyed this! Thanks for sharing. I'd say God bless you, but He already has ☺

    1. He sure has! Thanks so much for reading my post, Melissa. Glad you enjoyed it. Merry Christmas!

  3. I'm not sure if the 1st comment I made took, so I'll say again . . . THIS WAS AWESOME! You made me feel as if I were right there with you and Hampton on your wonderfilled excursion :D I thank God for you and your amazing ability to see AND appreciate God's hand in all things, the extraordinary as well as the everyday happenings in your life. I actually had tears come to my eyes while reading this. Have a blessed day.

    1. Thank you, Barbara. I'm so happy you went along with Hampton and me!
      AND thanks so much for your kind words.

  4. Connie, this made me cry, because it made me think of all the wonderful memories I have of Christmases with my grandparents. And I'm positive that Hampton will never forget your adventure. You are a very special granny!!!!!

    1. Well, Sheila, I should tell you I cried as I wrote it. Thank you so much!

  5. Connie, I loved going on this adventure with your and Hampton. Precious memories that he will hold in his heart and share with future generations

    1. Dana, I'm so glad you joined in on our adventure. Thanks so much!!! Merry Christmas.

  6. I loved your story, and I hope Do-Daddy warms up to the tree. (Love that name for him!) Have a merry Christmas, Connie! You are a cool grandmother!

    1. Katy, thank you so much. I believe Do-Daddy is actually enjoying the tree.
      Merry Christmas to you and your family!