Six years ago we had our first real freshly cut evergreen for our Christmas tree. When I was growing up in Manila, we rarely put up an artificial Christmas tree if at all, more so a real live one. I don’t think there are available real pines for Christmas trees back home? And even if there are, we surely cannot afford them anyway.
The real ones were so much better, from the way they look, the way they feel (though sometimes prickly), and the way they smell. We like them very much that every Christmas we had real ones ever since, except for last year.Well, last year was when we exchanged our white Christmas for a warm Christmas, when we went back home in Manila for the holiday season. In fact, that was my first Christmas back in the Philippines after 15 years of living abroad.
About two weeks ago we went to a tree farm to choose and tag our Christmas tree. So there we were, in a freezing cold, out in vast open farm, with endless rows after rows of evergreens, looking for the perfect one. After passing tree after tree after tree, they all looked the same to me. But my wife has strict criteria. “Oh, that’s too tall. That one is too small. Oh, that’s to shaggy. That’s too baldly. That’s too fat. That’s too thin. That’s too asymmetrical. That’s too…..”. And so on and so forth.
After several minutes of walking through several rows of trees, my wife sensed my lack of enthusiasm, so she sent me and the kids to the farm’s office to get warm. She continued her quest to look for the perfect one. She probably looked over hundreds of them, and I’m not exaggerating.
It was comfortable and toasty inside the farm’s store and office. There was even a man dressed like Santa in a corner handing out gifts. I told my son, who is seven, to go and sit at his lap so he can have the loot that he was giving away. However, he did not want to go, and told me that Santa might have a bad breath. I tell you, my boy is either anti-Santa, or too old for that, or too smart that he knew that the loot from Santa was not worth the trouble. So we just bought popcorn and watched the toy train as it rolled through a miniature town on display while we waited for their mom.
After some time, that seemed like eternity, my wife have not yet returned so I got worried. I called her then on her cellphone to make sure she was still doing OK, and that she was not lost in the forest of trees, or got kidnapped by Christmas elves. She answered and said that she was doing fine and was near a decision on picking the right tree. Sure enough she came back minutes later and told us that she tagged the perfect one.
Yesterday, we went back to the farm to have our chosen tree chopped down and wrapped so we can take it home. You see, you don’t want to harvest your pine too early, or it will dry up and lose all its needles even before Christmas arrives. So usually we choose and tag it by the last week of November, and have it cut down and bring it home by early December.
Our pine was cut down, wrapped, and was tied on top of our car. We then went home with our perfect tree.
After all the trimmings, the decorations, and the lights were placed, I admit that it was beautiful. As I stood beside it with my wife and kids, and gazed some more, I agree that it was indeed a perfect tree. Not that I can tell the difference from all the other evergreens that I saw in the farm. But what makes it perfect are the people I am with as I stood there watching. People that I hold very dear in my heart.