Out for a drive today I was thinking to myself how much I would just rather skip over the holiday this year all together. There are so many emotions tied to so many different areas of my life that make the season feel a little less bright at times. In fact, I was discussing this very topic with someone last night and how we were both feeling the same; just boycott the holiday to get through it so it can be over.
As I was making my way back home I drove past a typical sign for this time of year, “Choose or cut your own tree”. Now, I am having a holiday party in mid December with the theme being to trim my holiday tree with an ornament that you bring. However, I was starting to think lately that I would rather have the party but minus the tree. I drove past the sign at first but felt compelled to put my breaks on and turn around.
As I rerouted myself and turned down the road, I was not thinking anything in particular at this time or really even expecting all that much. I have seen many Christmas trees in my days, and have spent many seasons cutting one down with my family out of habit, but thoughts of yesteryear were not creeping into my mind. Following the long road, which changed from blacktop to dirt, I noticed I started to feel a little differently. Maybe it was the not knowing what would be at the end of this road, or maybe it was the feeling of driving through a beautiful tree lined pathway, but I noticed a slight energy shift.
As I entered the clearing, the simplistic and rustic beauty that rolled out struck me before my eyes. There were tall pines on a mountainside, the sound of men and their chainsaws cutting down the next prized piece of Christmas joy and the smell of wood smoke coming from a small fire to keep you warm. As I stepped out of my vehicle, I was greeted by Karen who I felt compelled to stand and chat with for no other reason than feeling comfort in her presence. As she asked what I was looking for I found myself saying, “Driving down these back roads I saw your sign for Christmas trees, but it was not until this moment I realized how much I wanted one.” Karen kindly showed me around and gave me information on the trees they had available, and she encouraged me to look around until I found what I wanted. As I meandered through the choices both in and outside of the barn, I took joy in listening to families and their children trying to decide which tree was meant for them. I then found the tree for me and I felt a sense of happiness I was not expecting. I found Karen who asked if I had found my tree and I told her yes, and she instantly smiled and tracked down the male helpers to help tie it to my truck. As I paid for my tree I was chatting with Karen and another woman who had just come down from hiking the back part of the property. Karen encouraged me to do the same before leaving, and so I did. With a cup of hot cider warming my hands, I was off to take in the view. As I was walking up and through the field, I saw where I wanted to go, and had my sights on a tree that had fallen long ago but was calling to me like a long lost friend. As I climbed onto the tree to sit, I looked below as birds sang in the trees and the pines stood proud.
In this moment, I realized this holiday I was not going to let the painful memories of past and recent life events have control over me, I was not going to let them or the people tied to them have that kind of power. Life is short enough without letting that happen to you, and I need to start reclaiming myself. As I made my way back down the mountainside I felt a smile come across my face, and I suddenly felt the excitement of getting my prized tree back home. Today, I was reminded of the Christmas Spirit and I found it in the kindness of a stranger, a hot cup of cider and an old tree. I will now hold Chestnut Mountain with special admiration in my heart, and I look forward to returning there so I can reconnect with nature.