Christmas truly is my favorite time of year. Beyond the gift giving, Christmas music, parties, lights and decorations, and catching up with all my loved ones, Christmas is the time of year when I’m filled with a special kind of warmth and happiness. I think a lot of this comes from fond memories and traditions of my childhood Christmases, ones that all tend to blend together for a special Christmas spirit that still inspires me each December.
One of those such traditions of my childhood was getting the family Christmas tree. I remember always going with my mom and aunt Kathy on an evening the second week of December up to Eagle Farms, a local garden center in my hometown, to pick out the perfect pine. We’d usually spend as much as an hour, wandering the endless rows of trees, carefully inspecting every prospect, and narrowing our favorites down until we agreed on our Christmas tree. I can still feel the excitement as I’d watch the men who worked there load the tree on the roof of my mom’s Jeep ZJ Grand Cherokee Laredo, safely securing it with her trusted bungee cords.
Fearful of the tree falling off, I’d have my head turned around the whole way home, until we pulled up to our front door where my grandfather would always be waiting to help carry the tree in. Getting the tree into the tree stand and then angling it perfectly upright was always be a big, somewhat comical production, especially with four stubborn adults telling each other what to do. Alas, in no time the tree would be up, and we’d all decorate it together with cherished ornaments acquired over the decades and the many new ones we’d add to the collection each year.
With memories, we often tend to romanticize them in our minds, focusing on the most pleasant details and embellishing the details that were less than perfect, such as wandering in the freezing cold picking out the tree, the struggle to put it up and the quibbling that went along with it, the year the it fell over. My childhood Christmases were hardly perfect, but in recollection they were pretty damn close.
The Christmas tree was always my favorite part, as for just a few weeks out of the year, it would become the focal point of my family’s heavily decorated victorian home, with its appreciated 9-foot ceilings that allowed for such a large tree… and my mom’s Jeep that enabled us to bring it home, even if her basic ZJ wasn’t as picturesque as this John Hughes-worthy XJ.
What a great looking Woodie Wagoneer! Especially the color.
We get that a lot in our area (Baltimore) – folks dressing up the grills of their S/CUV(s) with wreathes. It always makes me smile.
I know about Christmas trees falling over. When I was a child, our Airedale managed to knock our large tree over on Christmas eve. What a mess.
I was looking for a way to sum up that Jeep in my mind, then you provided one. I think “John Hughes-worthy” pretty much does it.
I was thinking the same thing — perfect analogy for this Jeep. The plaid blanket under the tree is also very fitting, making it seem like it just drove off from an LL Bean photo shoot.
I’d expect to get more of a Grand Wagoneer vibe in a John Hughes movie…
That Jeep is quite a find in that condition, especially wearing Maine license plates. Rust has claimed most of them. The Scottish tartan fabric protecting the roof adds an almost Hollywood look to the picture.
I read somewhere (probably here) that XJ Jeeps in good condition are actually rather valuable. I guess it makes sense since I think a lot of them got taken out by the ill-conceived Cash-for-Clunkers program.
Did anyone else notice the tires on the feature vehicle? It’s refreshing to see appropriate street rubber on a 4WD vehicle instead of those over-the-top flotation tires with off-road tread.
Great pictures and write-up! Really captures the joy of this season.
I love these, especially in stacked-headlight-woodie trim.
The remaining Cherokees around here have all been pretty much restored and modified. They’re still pretty awesome, and you can tell they are a labor of love for their owners, but they’re not as cool as this.
Finding an early XJ Wagoneer Limited stacked-headlight ‘spider-eyes’ DD is a great CC find. The XJ is often cited as the first modern CUV and I might go so far as to say it’s specifically the high-end Wagoneer Limited version. It’s not my style (the XJ is cramped and rough-riding in actual practice) but I can appreciate its contribution to the auto world, nonetheless.
Iacocca made some mistakes as Chrysler CEO, but acquiring Jeep and what he did (or allowed them to do) can’t be questioned. In fact, it’s almost as if he brougham-ified the XJ Jeep. It was a solid move that’s been paying off for every auto manufacturer to this day.
Straight out of an LL Bean catalog, just needs snow and a Golden Retriever.
Back in the mid 90’s a coworker had a limited like this one but in burgundy,’and his grille got damaged in a minor accident. He had a heck of a time finding a replacement. I even helped him in his search. As long as I worked with him, I don’t think he ever found one. Might be easier with the interweb these days.
This is a great shot and warms the heart.
Such a great post to kick off Christmas Eve *Eve*, Brendan. I can’t remember the last time I saw one of these Grand Cherokees in person. All the faux pine on the sides fits perfectly for the season.
A great picture and a wonderful essay to complement it.
Your “all the kids” picture reminds me of so many of those that my kids (and I) were in.
Nice article. Everyone on the pics looks so happy and cheerful.
I owned a base model XJ Wagoneer for many years, which was even more rare than these Wagoneer Limited models. I’d buy one if I could find one, but as noted above, good ones for sale are pricey and rare in the rust belt.