Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Cutting a Christmas tree

A few days ago we gave in to the kids' begging and went into our woods to cut a Christmas tree.

Except for a brief sneeze of snow in November, we've had bare ground so far this winter, and the girls are anxious to capture something of winter by setting up the tree. A week or so earlier, Older Daughter had spotted a likely candidate, so we went to check it out.

It was kind of a funny shape -- spindly on top, bare at the bottom -- but with a nice full middle that would work if it were trimmed. Don cut it near the bottom of the full part, about three feet from the ground.

Then we assigned the girls the (cough) honor of dragging the tree up to the house.

We measured the clearance in the house...

...then measured the tree...

...before trimming it to the appropriate size.

I joked that we're one of the few American families who knows exactly where their tree stand is every year. We've had this tree stand since we've been married.

Clear the decks! Here it comes!

Why is it a tree is always bigger inside the house than outside?

No matter, it's easy to trim.

And since he was up on the ladder anyway, Don put the angel on top.

As usual, Lydia wonders what on earth we crazy humans are doing.

First things first: tie the tree to the banister. Can't have it tipping over!

Then comes the fun part: decorating.

This always leaves chaos in the house, but it's a fun chaos.

We keep most of our Christmas decorations in this large cardboard box. Why this particular box? Well, years ago the kids drew drawings all over it and we absolutely love it. We've had to reinforce the box with tape over the years as it's weakened, but we don't want to ever get rid of it because of all those terrific childish drawings.

By the next day, the tree looked lovely.

I've never lost my childish love for the magical beauty of a Christmas tree.


  1. Beautiful tree! I will always prefer real over fake. I wrote on my blog about the 4 reasons I prefer real. I do wish my children would limit their drawings to a box. I have a wall we are hesitating to paint due to the "artwork".

  2. I laughed out loud when you showed the tree tied to the bannister. I see a likely suspect of tipping peaking in one of the photos. The first year we had our cat became the first year of securing the tree!

    I love the family time shared in this post, right down to the decorated Christmas box. When folks wonder how a home is happy and children and parents are content, I always reflect upon the foundation-years of spending time together making tremendous memories out of a simple excursion and feel a bit sad. You see if someone is wondering, it means that they have missed out, and that breaks my heart, because the way to create incredible adults begins because of posts like this!


  3. I think the difference in height would be the stand. LOL. We did the same thing too. This is our first year with a tree as we were living in a 5th wheel trailer from '07-'10. Now we have a house with a very high ceiling and a tall tree!
    Even after all this time, we knew right where our stand was. Also, this summer, my parents brought up their old tree stand, a red and green one just like yours only rusty.

  4. Love the pix, Patrice. 4 years ago we bought a fake tree with its own lights. The first time we set it up, one section of lights didn't work. We tried everything, finally emailing the company that imported the tree (from China). They sent us a whole new section, but in the meantime, two other sections of lights quit working! The past two Christmases we put our own lights on the tree and didn't bother plugging in the ones that came on it. This year we bought a live tree. WONDERFUL smell! BEAUTIFUL shape! No more fake trees for us!
    --Fred & Deb in AZ

  5. Very nice, yes the season is in your home now.

  6. Save the Canning JarsDecember 13, 2011 at 2:46 PM

    Oh you don't know what you're missing by not having an artificial tree...the cat eats the fake greens and vomits in front of company! It's so SPECIAL!

    Your tree is lovely and your house is a home! Merry Christmas and God's blessings for a joyous and prosperous New Year!

  7. I love using materials from around the homestead to fix up the house for Christmas!

    Ten years ago, I planted a whole slew of evergreens all different sizes so they'd reach maturity at different times.

    The idea was to cut one a year for our Christmas tree, and plant a new one each spring to replace it. I even had enough to share.

    But, by the time the trees started getting big enough, I lost my nerve and haven't cut a single one. Now they're getting too big and growing too close together....I had planned on cutting them to thin them.

    In the meantime, I gather vines, boughs and branches to decorate the house. It means so much more.

    Love your tree.

    Just Me

  8. there is just nothing better at christmas time than the scent of a real tree.

  9. I'll probably be the dissenting opinion here, but where I live we don't have any forests in which we can cut our own tree. We could pay $30-$60 in a store or at a Christmas tree farm, but that's a lot of money, at least for me. I invested $13 for a fake one at a local thrift store and this is our 4th Christmas using it. In 10 years, I'll have saved enough for a rifle or handgun. Since a gun can last a lifetime, and will often hold its value, that, for me, is the better investment than a purchased "real" tree. We burn scented candles and don't have to worry about our 8 mo. old choking on the needles.


  10. We had a tree stand just like yours for many years...until one year our huge tree did tip over, with the ornaments on it! We only lost a few ornaments. Now we have a mega tree stand!
    -K in OK <><

  11. Beautiful, and a real tree is the only way to go (even if you are still finding needles in unusual places months later).

    I agree whole-heartedly with Humble wife it's the family time and making memories that are important. I too keep the decorations in a box my son decorated when younger (although he was a little more 'exuberant' with the glue on glitter and tinsel than your happy multitude).

    Wishing you, your family and loved ones, and all other readers a joyful present and a well remembered past this Christmas.

  12. There is nothing quite as fun at this time of year as cutting your own tree in your own forest. Such great memories last throughout a lifetime!

    BTW, the last photo in the series is gorgeous.

    In case I don't get another chance to do so, I wish the Lewis Family a very Merry Christmas.

    Anonymous Patriot

  13. We used to get a real tree, then not long after my little sister was born we bought our first fake tree back in '88 or '89. Around eight or nine years ago, we got a new fake pre-lit tree. It worked fine for the first couple of years, then we began having trouble with it, and eventually, we went back to our old fake tree. We kept looking around for a new one, but nothing fit our taste. They don't even make fake trees like they used to. So, we're using our old one again. It looks a little worse for wear, but once you dress it up, it looks great!


    P.S. I would love to try a real tree again, but my dad says they dry out too easily. :( I'm sure there's a way to keep them fresh longer, but he doesn't want to mess with it.

  14. We just decorated our tree, too. Your pictures are so pretty, I need to put one up on my blog of our tree. :D

    My husband is a fireman's son. He grew up around the firehouse, and with the radio in his house, and his mom was a dispatcher from home for a while. His father burned a message into his brain that is still there to this day:

    After Christmas one year, they took down the decorations and, finally, the tree. Like many, they had bought the tree at one of those roadside tree stands. Shay's father took him, his brother, and the tree into the backyard, and then put his lighter to the tree.

    Shay was shocked as he watched the tree turn into a raging inferno within seconds. From that experience, he took away the conviction that he would never buy a tree like that, which had likely been cut the previous month and then never watered. If he couldn't cut it down himself, he wasn't ever going to buy a real tree.

    Since we've been married, we've had real trees many times, and loved every one. One year, we almost hatched a thousand mantises, but we caught it in time. Several years ago, we had a bad hurricane. Months later, we went and cut a Christmas tree. It was dropping needles after only a week. The storm had stressed it too much.

    The following year, we had another hurricane. This time, we found a really nice artificial. The trees still hadn't recovered completely from the near-back-to-back hits.

    Since then, we've moved, and we seem to have brought a drought with us... so the trees here are stressed, too. We're still putting up our artificial. Maybe next year.

  15. Good stuff Patrice! Just how my family does it in New Hampshire. Unto us a child was born....
    Your tree is beautiful!

    Bob Pratt, Lyman, NH

  16. I just LOVE your Christmas tree photo on the top of your blog.

    I can't wait until we live Stateside again and can go cut a tree - hopefully next year!!!

    Also, did you hear about the grenade attack in Liege? :(

  17. Thanks for the flood of warm memories and goosebumps Patrice. My Dad also used the wrong tape measure many times, my job often was cut to fit! The look on Lydia's face is priceless and familiar, my German Shepherd Charlie Dog was always with that "look indoor plumbing" gaze! Merry Christmas ya'll...