23 December 2007

Emily Munday Brings Home the Christmas Tree

In America today, how many families go out and cut their own Christmas tree? Hell, in America today, how many families even have a real tree? Since it is a rare experience, yet a nostalgic one for many, I thought it worthy of a blog entry.

Nearly every year that Jan & I have been married (is it really 30 years?) and for some years previous, we have found and cut our own tree--usually in a quasi-legal fashion on public land. The preference is for a local, native species, and they have run the gamut from red cedar to Eastern hemlock to white pine to black spruce. In the years I worked on Ben Anderson's Christmas tree farm in high school, there were exotics such as Scotch or Austrian pines. After moving to Montana, we settled on the Douglas fir as our favorite--they are generally full, well shaped, and have "friendly" needles.

A week or so ago, I was all ready to bring home a tree. Then Emily called, still in the painful throes of final exams. She has joined the tree hunt every year since birth. For the first few years she rode in a Snugli, a Gerry babypack, or on a sled. And so I caved in (sorry, Jan) and said, "Sure, I'll wait until you're home, and we'll cut it two days before Christmas."

In Montana, you can cut your own tree on Forest Service land or on state land. We headed to a familiar piece of state land in the shadow of Butte. It abounds with Douglas fir, an invasive species that is crowding many areas that historically were grassy parks providing good forage for elk and deer. For this reason, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks has been laboriously clearing these areas of trees. It would, of course, be much more efficient and natural simply to burn them, but with so many houses at the "wildland interface" that option isn't feasible.

Here's the Tree Slayer herself, home to Montana from the wilds of Boston University:

In search of the perfect tree, the cold wind nipping at her nose:

And with the perfect tree found, she unsheathed her vorpal blade:

And the Tannenbaum fell snicker-snack:

A mere half-mile drag from the truck:

Hence to the warmth of the waiting trusty Toyota, steel steed of steeds:

Then to the house, where Jan ("We shoulda had this done a week ago!") had the decorations waiting:

Decorations including Emily's precious construction from the 2nd grade:

Heirlooms from Grandma Beryl:

And our first decoration, given to the high school couple by Jan's Aunt Mary. "You rock, Woodstock!":

Merry Christmas, folks!

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