Tree Day.

Today might as well be a national holiday. For my family, today is arguably bigger than Thanksgiving. Today is Tree Day. Usually celebrated on the second Saturday in December, Tree Day is a full day of celebration and Christmas spirit from start to finish.

Here’s what this year’s Tree Day festivities looked like:

February 2010: Mom requested this day off work.

December 11, 2010:

8:30am — I wake up to the smell of freshly baked muffins.

10:30am — I come home from my run to the smell of Christmas cookies baking in preparation for decorating the tree tonight.

12:00pm — We pile in the car and start the drive to the Christmas tree farm.

1:00pm — We arrive at Bowen Tree Farm and begin the hunt for the perfect Christmas tree. Too wide, too sparse, too tall, too short, too awkward. Perfect. Seth cuts it down and dad ties it to the car.

1:30pm-ish — We warm up by the fire while drinking my dad’s homemade hot chocolate and eating chocolate Christmas cookies. Mike and Annie (the owners of the farm) and their whole family know my dad as the “hot chocolate man.” Here is where fellowship happens over chocolate and trees.

2:00pm-ish — Mom, Seth, and I browse through the gift shop which is more like a tiny country boutique. We smile at pretty handmade jewelry and stationary and ornaments, stopping to touch scarves and fuzzy knitted hats. I take home a ring and a pair of earrings with yellow flowers, and my mom finds a a new ornament for our heavily decorated tree.

2:30pm — We take pictures in front of the fire to lock this memory in our family history. We laugh at mom trying to take pictures with Nathan’s professional camera. Then we’re on the road again. “Have a good year,” we say to our once-a-year-friends.

3:00pm — Arrive at The Village Pizzeria that doesn’t sell pizza. Inside it looks like your grandmother’s Denny’s, but the menu boasts everything from steak to biscuits and gravy, to taco salad and lasagna. Everything but pizza. The food is great, and the service is terrible, but now that we’ve shared this together, it’s forever sketched in our memories. It lives on as The Village Pizzeria with no pizza.

5:00pm — Eyes are heavy on the long car ride home. When we get home, dad takes the tree off the top of the car.

Usually this is where dad would struggle to get the tree into the tree stand and make it perfectly straight. Tonight, unfortunately I have to work so it will need to wait for another time. He would put on the lights while mom prepares eggnog and cookies. We put on Nat King Cole’s Christmas record and unpack memories we haven’t seen in a year. I hang a bright orange, felt gingerbread man that I made when I was young. From the looks of his skewed face, I was probably younger than 5. And we hang other homemade ornaments and precious, breakable ornaments. We put the star on top, and the tree shines. It completes our living room which is totally redecorated for Christmas.

Everything about Christmas is a big deal in my family and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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