Although it came a week later than I was planning on, our tree-hunting trip was as pleasant and wonderful as ever. We have fallen into quite the routine - we leave town on late Friday afternoon and find the Burnetts on the road along the way. Following them, we wend our way through the dark and snowy canyons up to Garden City just on the edge of Bear Lake. We drive around the edge of the lake into Idaho and then turn and go up into the hills until we arrive at a quaint little cabin, which we scurry into and start turning on things as quick as we can to get warm. We bring movies, crafts plus lots of food to cook together - this year I introduced Mary and her kids to our biscuits and gravy recipe, made famous and delicious by our Aunt Tonja. It's so good. We lounge in our jammies way too long and usually almost forget to get out of the cabin to actually go cut down a tree.
This year the word must have spread about the fabulous Christmas trees filling the hills surrounding Bear Lake, because we had a lot of company up there. Now, I know not everyone is going to get this reference, but the funniest part of the tree-cutting afternoon happened as we pulled up to our little clearing. We arrived just as another family was hauling an absolutely huge tree to their car. We must have clearly been gawking at them because after a minute, the man hauling the tree hollered out to us, "Hey Griswold, where are you going to put a tree that big!?!?" Troy immediately, without a moment's hesitation, hollered the following line right back at them. Now, if you know what the line is, you'll know why I'm not actually writing it down here, but you'll be chuckling none the less. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, you can either go watch Christmas Vacation or just move on.
Not only did we have a ton of other tree-choppers this year, we had a little bit of trouble finding a tree! Although the hills were packed with trees, there weren't many that were tall and not smushed in with a bunch of other trees. It wasn't long before the kids were cold and we were all kind of miserable, so Troy and I finally settled on a good-enough tree that ended up tall and straight enough but a little funny-shaped; stick-skinny at the top and bushy and wild at the bottom. Oh well! We love it anyway.
One really lovely part of the weekend was the opportunity we took to hold a brief church meeting together on Sunday, after the cabin was cleaned and packed up. It only took 10 or 15 minutes to sing a song, have a prayer, take the sacrament and share words of testimony and gratitude. It's amazing how quickly the mood and feeling in the cabin changed from spirited and jovial to peaceful and sacred as we gathered to worship together.
As always, this was a great start to our holidays - music, movies, friends, Christmas trees. It's always a little exhausting to get home from a trip and unpack it all and clean it all up and then decorate for Christmas that same day, but I wouldn't have it any other way.