By Guest Blogger Kelley Eanes, author of kelleyeanes.com
I’m not sure why it seemed like a good idea, but the year we welcomed our third daughter into the world our family decided to load up our 2-week-old, 2-year-old, and 4-year-old and head to the mountains so we could pick out our very own Christmas tree. In all honestly, I’m sure “we” thought it was a good idea because social media said it was, and by “we” I definitely mean me.
My husband kept pointing out all the reasons he thought that particular year may not be the best. After all, we just had a baby, it was really cold outside, and regardless of what all the pictures looked like online, he was certain this particular activity touted an incredibly high divorce rate. Perhaps, he suggested, having a baby and then getting divorced was not the best way to start the holiday season. Surely, we could simply play some Christmas music, sip on hot chocolate, and get in a fight at our house instead. I listened carefully as he stated his case and being the rational, post-partum adult that I was, demanded we load up our newly acquired van.
Donned in cute, matching outfits, we left our driveway ready to experience our first Christmas adventure together. I’m not exactly sure how long it is supposed to take to get to the mountains from Winston, but between snacks, breastfeeding breaks, a potty training two-year-old, and a screaming baby I was certain Christmas would actually be over before we ever arrived.
An unprecedented number of hours later, we managed to emerge from the van looking rather disheveled and much unlike any Instagram photo I’ve ever seen before. My husband stared in silence while my eldest daughter cried because she could not use the axe to cut the tree. The experience was far from the magical, but it wasn’t over yet.
“Hey ma’am, how did you want to get this home?”
“Oh, I thought we could just tie it to the top rack…. Is that not how it works?”
“Oh, it usually is, it’s just, well… you don’t have one.”
“I’m sorry, what?”
Newly acquired van being the key words from above. My husband laughed and I started wondering about his divorce rates theory. My oldest girls quickly realized the problem and began a symphony of whining about having to leave our tree. Never fear, we did not leave the tree; we did what any sensible person in such a situation would do, we put a live tree inside of our brand-new van which was carrying our brand-new baby. We are very good parents.
And, because we are not quitters or maybe because we are stupid… we went back the next year. Year two went a lot like year one. Except…
“Ma’am this here tree is not going to fit inside that van.”
“We could just tie it on top and wrap the ropes all the way under your roof, you’ll just have to leave your windows down a little bit?”
“You are a genius, perfect!”
It wasn’t until the tree was already securely tied to the top of our van that I realized the Christmas tree worker was actually not a genius at all. Covered in a maze of ropes, tied to the roof and doors and windows, we had effectively locked ourselves out of our van. Determined to get home, we surrendered to the only solution we saw at the time and shimmied one by one through the passenger side window into our van. Nothing says Christmas like looking over and seeing a massive bottom and legs flailing out of a window at the Christmas tree farm. Here’s to being holly and jolly!
A year came and went and I somehow convinced my husband the third time’s a charm. After all, could everyone on Facebook and Instagram be wrong about this Christmas Tree Farm experience? Spoiler alert… yes, yes, they could. This particular year we planned to go on our way home from Thanksgiving because apparently, we like punishing ourselves and we just do not learn. Driving from Little Rock, AR, to Winston- Salem, NC, with us is probably the equivalent of getting a root canal sans drugs. The 15-hour drive quickly turned into a 4,768-hour drive, and somewhere in Nowhere, TN, I started praying for the earth to give way and swallow us whole. The 2-year-old was crying because she wanted out, the 4-year-old was crying because she couldn’t hear the DVD, and the 6-year-old was crying because she couldn’t sleep … due to the crying. Such was our state when we pulled up to the Christmas tree farm for the third year in a row. A van full of Thanksgiving luggage, no roof rack, and with no plan, we got out to pick our tree. Only, there were no trees.
“Oh, sorry ma’am, we had more people buy trees yesterday than we did all of the weekends last year combined, this is all we have left”
“Yes, of course you did.”
And so, we left… without a tree. The entire way home our 2-year-old chanted “no tree, no tree, no tree”, our 4-year-old pointed at the trees on the tops of the cars driving by and our 6-year-old demanded I silence them both. A merry Christmas indeed!
Our last great tree adventure was in 2017 and we have since added another baby to our family. This year when COVID hit and I saw the flurry of Christmas tree farm pics pop up on my Instagram feed I almost considered packing it up and heading back to the mountains for a tree. And then I remembered … y’all are either all liars or we are just doing it wrong … I’m not sure which it is, but I certainly don’t think 2020 is the year to try and figure it out.
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