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.