Our Christmas tree is up and decorated and it looks beautiful. Picking it out this year was a melancholy experience for me. We stopped in Boone, NC on our way home from spending Thanksgiving with Jay's parent's. It was a beautiful day, sunny and cool but far from cold. There was even a Carolina Blue sky. Picking a tree in this weather could take forever when compared to the trips where the winds have been howling and snow has been blowing every which way and any tree that looked OK would do just as long as we could get back into the car quickly. We could take our time but we didn't need to. The tree farm had any number of beautiful trees and after debating less than 15 minutes Adam and I had selected the tree and it had been cut and was tied securely to our roof rack. We were on our way.
This was probably the last time Adam would be with us to help pick the tree. I guess I should be excited that this time next year he will have graduated from Georgia Tech, have his well earned Masters and be working in Virginia with a company he loves. I am excited for him but sad that both of my children are going to be on their own. Sad that there will be no more arguments about which tree is the best and sad that this part of our family tradition will be changing. This realization was not as profound as the realization that this year my dad would not be here to share Christmas with us.
Dad and I had a special love of Christmas trees. He was the MOST patient man I have ever known. I will never forget the year he took me, just me, to pick out our Christmas tree. I think I was about 15 and he took me out of school early. I was so excited to be able to have lunch with him and then go tree hunting. We lived in Ohio and while I imagine there may have been a few choose and cut tree farms, we never went to one. We would visit the lots with the pre-cut trees. We visited lot after lot after lot that afternoon looking for the perfect tree. When I didn't find what I wanted we would move on to the next lot until finally it was getting dark and Dad said this lot would be our last stop. I did settle on a tree at that last lot but it was not a tree I was happy with. There were some large spaces in places that would show. I am sure I pouted and I am sure I was not happy on my way home but Dad said nothing. He hauled the tree inside, set it in the tree stand and then went to work. I don't remember staying around to watch him. I do remember I walked into the living room to see my dad wiring up branches that were too low and drilling holes in the trunk to insert branches he had cut off the bottom which filled the open spaces. He was making me the perfect Christmas tree! When he was done he strung the lights, all blue, and we hung the ornaments. When we were finished and he lit the tree I stood in amazement at how beautiful and perfect my tree was. I was ashamed of myself but Dad didn't say a word. What an amazing gift of love and patience he showed me that day. We picked out other Christmas trees together, sometimes even with my 3 brothers but the tree Dad and I always talked about was that tree, my tree.
This year as I look at my tree I will remember that tree and that man who loved his daughter even when she was a brat and I will pray that I have shown, and will continue to show, my children and those around me the lessons I have learned from him.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. (1 Corinthians 13)