At the Farm GateMemories around the tree glow bright
Six Christmas trees help set the holiday mood in our home.
My husband keeps a different tally, pointing out that our indoor forest calculates to a few dozen evergreens when you count the 12-inch trees atop the kitchen cupboards and the backdrop to our nativity display. Don’t forget the tabletop trees that surround my Christmas barns, nor the set of trees cut from aged barn wood displayed on our bathroom counter. In the kitchen, we decorate a pencil tree with old family cookie cutters, a personal favorite.
I love Christmas trees. In fact, they seem to make all of us happy, so we planted a short-needled evergreen in our front landscaping last year. Their presence and meaning bring together some of our most favorite things. Family time, farm influences and rustic decor intertwine with a Christian holiday, making our hearts and minivan radio break into Christmas songs.
This time of year, I most especially enjoy staying home in our tree-filled retreat, anticipating the moments when programmed timers cue the Christmas lights throughout the house. Our family gathers next to the lit living room tree to watch Christmas movies. I fall asleep by tree light in our bedroom. I savor the peace of early morning, rolling out cinnamon rolls before dawn with the glowing Christmas tree.
Consistent with the memories of my childhood, we shop the Christmas tree farm right after Thanksgiving, connecting with families growing a different crop for a different harvest season. We walk the farm and take a family vote for the best nine-foot fir. This tree, the only real one in our home, bears the gifts, the Christmas star, and the most sentimental ornaments. Five other trees, all six-foot artificials, take on our family’s personalities through themes of hunting, fishing, the farm and our alma mater.
My husband should have predicted my obsession for needled trees upon marriage to me, a farmgirl born on Christmas Eve. At our September wedding reception in the farm shop, guests placed gifts under a 12-foot, fresh-cut pine, a gift itself from the local tree farm.
A few tree tribulations since have tested the marriage. Most notably, my husband tells the story of cutting a board from the unfinished garage wall to improve the “cheap tree stand” he says that I purchased for our first Christmas together. Without elaborating, the story ends well. We’ve celebrated 17 Christmases since.
About the author: Joanie Stiers’ family grows corn, soybeans and hay and raises beef cattle in West-Central Illinois.