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The Christmas tradition that would: a tale
Filed under: Development/Milestones: Babies
Once upon a time there was a mama. She was an energetic mama, full of ideas, vim, vigor and spice. She had plans, big plans, and they revolved around the perfect Christmas. She had some very excellent ideas about a bucolic, authentic celebration, full of home-baked goodies and roast meats and trees gathered from the Oregon woods.
Sometime in January 2004 she decided the family's ongoing tradition would be to cut a tree down from the Mt. Hood Forest, a right of every Oregon resident willing to cough up $5 for a permit and hike a few hundred feet from the road. In December 2004, she had all but given up hope; she was five months pregnant and her husband was two thousand miles away in boot camp. He'd joined the Army Reserves. She despaired of even having a tree.
But fate intervened and her husband was given two weeks' Christmas leave. Would her dream become a reality?It might have done. Two days before Christmas she and her family bundled up in snow suits and headed up toward the mountain. There was traffic. The husband took a creative "shortcut." They arrived at the Rangers' Station where permits could be obtained five minutes after closing time.
The next day, Christmas Eve, the energetic husband got up very, very early and went to a Christmas tree lot, obtaining a tree for free. It was a beautiful tree. But still, the mama mourned her Christmas tradition that could have been. Next year, she thought. Next year I'll do it right.
Throughout the year, every time she went through the forest or saw Christmas stories, she thought about the tree, imagining that permit, the saw, the perfect bundled-up trip to the snow. Her husband was home now, and they knew well enough to avoid the last-minute rush up the mountain.
Each day of December, she said to herself, tomorrow we'll go to get the tree. First her husband's exams got in the way (he was going back to school), then a major project with work, then her husband's work. Finally it was only two days before Christmas, the day she was sure they'd get the tree. But by noon, when they hadn't even begun their errands, she realized her dream was sunk. That night, she fell asleep on the couch, surrounded by wrapping paper and attached to a hungry baby.
When Christmas Eve dawned, the mama groggily awoke to whispers from her husband and three-year-old son. "Don't wake up mama," said a familiar voice, "so we can surprise her!" She heard her son jumping up and down. Quietly. She smelled the tang of pine needles.
Once again, the Christmas Eve tree had been gathered early in the morning for a greatly reduced price. Once again, she had missed her longed-for tradition. But had a new tradition been forged... the secret trip early Christmas Eve? Perhaps it had. Perhaps the family Christmas tradition was alive and well.
She smiled through her
tired eyes and held up her baby to see his first Christmas tree. "Look sweetie," she said, "it's