the season of giving
When I was a wee little kid barely able to walk, my parents used to pile us three kids into the car and head over to a Christmas tree farm right outside of Novato, California. We'd walk around and inspect every tree, choose one, and watch my dad cut it down. and when we got bored with watching my dad, we'd go pet the sheep behind the fence (they had a petting zoo area). I remember one year when I insisted that we get this one particular tree; to me it seemed 20 feet tall, and it probably was, because pictures from that year's Christmas show a tree with the top cropped down about a foot so as not to hit the ceiling.
That farm is no longer there, and i'm sure by now new condos have been built over that ridiculously expensive land. About ten years ago, my dad and my sister's kids went searching all over Marin and Sonoma counties looking for tree farms, and finally found one in Petaluma, but Dad doesn't think that farm is there anymore either.
Whenever Christmas rolls around, I talk the boy's ear off about the Christmas tree farm of my youth. This past Friday night, the boy looked up from his computer and said, "I've a surprise for you!" and I blurted out, "Did you find a Christmas tree farm?". His face fell. "How did you know?"
When you've been with someone long enough, you start to read each other's minds. I just knew what he was talking about. and I was totally thrilled.
On saturday, we headed out bright and early with cash in hand to Bottoms Christmas Tree Farm in Cumming, GA (no snickering!). And memories from my youth were revived. We picked out the best tree and promptly named him Frank (we have a habit of naming our trees. Last year, it was Bing. Previous to that, there was Elvis). And I had the best time, walking around trying to find a good tree. My boy, he's good. He'd never been to a Christmas tree farm before, but the act of bringing his wife to one and watching her jump up and down for joy made him happy.
So from now on, we're getting all our future trees from the Bottoms farm, and I hope they stick around for a good long time.
While there, I picked up some pickled beets and squash rings for Charles' Christmas box. Charles will get the biggest kick out of it, especially because the labels say "Bottoms Christmas Tree Farm".
We had a little bit of trouble on the way back home, though. We had to get on 400 South and drive about a half hour, going 45 mph in the far right lane, because even though we'd secured Frank pretty well to the roof of the car, he was slipping a bit and I was positive that he'd go flying off and hit a car. I was making the boy crazy by staring through the sun roof at Frank and gasping every time Frank slipped. Then the boy noticed a mini van driving in the left lane next to us, a little bit behind, and going the same speed. The mini van followed us to our exit then moved on at normal speed. And we thought, How nice! this kind lady saw that we were freaking out (okay, I was the one freaking out) about the tree, and that we were driving really slowly, so she kept an eye on us the whole way. The whole time we had people flying by going 90 mph, and she stayed with us to ensure we got to our destination with no issues. And that small, insignificant act revived my hope in the humanity. I just don't get humans, especially these past few days with all these nutters running amok shooting people, ruining all kinds of lives. That one tiny act of kindness made a world of difference for me.
Frank is mostly decorated, complete with nativity scene and homemade star on the tippy top. The last thing I want to do (if i have the time) is to make my usual cookie ornaments. Normally, I make gingerbread ornaments, but the recipe is quite involved; so I was happy to see Dorie Greenspan's roll-out cookie recipe last week. I have a whole bunch of cookie cutters, stars, gingerbread men, dogs, and camels (I found a lot of these at yard sales) and in years past all kinds of shapes of cookies have gone up on the tree. I'm just kind of running out of free time these days, though, so i'm not 100% sure this will take place this year.
There's always next year.
UPDATE: I saw this and think it is a very clever way to hang cookie ornaments. i may have to try this out, as i'm always struggling with the size of the hole in the head of my gingerbread men ornaments. one particular ornament a few years back had a hanging hole right smack in the middle of his forehead, so i felt compelled to use royal icing and make Xs for eyes (it was all in fun - don't hate me). surprisingly, that ornament was a big hit.