On Saturday we went out in the woods behind our house to cut down a Christmas Tree. Jason and I had found it a few weeks ago when we were scouting for trees for the bed that he is making me. Like most Christmas Trees we Hambergs cut down in the forest, it was huge.
Just like my childhood trees, we would take the top and use the rest in the wood stove (or in this case for our bed).
Jason cut it down the "manly" way with nothing but his strength and a sharp ax.
And, like a tree from my childhood, it fell and got promptly stuck. I turned to Stomper, who was in my arms, and told him my favorite Christmas Tree story:
When Uncle Ben was your age he was too little to take out in the woods (well, he was probably younger because he wasn't quite two and you already are two). Grandfather and I had found a perfect tree, it was even bigger than this tree because we needed sixteen feet of Christmas Tree! Grandfather cut it down with a chainsaw and down it fell, about four feet. It was stuck in the trees, just like this one is!
I asked Grandfather, "Dad, should we find another tree?"
He said to me, "No, we need to take this one down, or it will fall down and maybe hurt someone."
I asked, "How will we get it down?"
He answered, "Well, I'm going to have to cut down a few more trees."
An hour and five trees later Grandfather had the tree safely on the ground. We gave a shout of triumph and went to check out our tree. But when we examined our beautiful tree we found it had a huge problem. It had two tops! What looked like one giant tree growing out of the ground, was actually two trees at the top. Grandfather cut the tree to the size we wanted and we dragged it out of the woods.
We stood staring at our tree for a few moments and I asked, "Do we separate them? Should we find a new tree?"
Grandfather shook his head, "No. I cut it down, we are using it."
When we got the tree in front of the house Grandfather had to use the chainsaw to whittle down the trunk so that it would fit in the five gallon bucket we used as a tree stand. He also had to wire the top and bottom together so that it would look like one solid tree.
It wasn't a perfect tree. But that's not what cutting a tree down is all about, it's about spending time together.
So, when we tell the story of the first Christmas Tree you cut down, Stomper, we will remember the time we spent together:
how you hated being in my arms and wanted to get down and run around, how the snow fell all around us, and that it was freezing cold and Papa was worried that you wouldn't be warm enough. We will remember you bouncing on the end of the tree while Papa chopped the top off with his Bowie Knife.
We will remember how you helped pull the tree out of the woods and how proud you were to be part of the work.
Of course we won't forget to mention that Papa dropped the tree into the arms of many other trees and had to cut it down a second time. But even that didn't get the tree to fall. Papa then picked the end of the tree up and pulled it and pulled it again until finally it fell!
I am so happy to share this memory with you, Stomper, and I look forward to telling it again and again.