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The Christmas Tree Forest
It’s now less than two weeks before Christmas and the other day I asked Larry’s Mom if she wanted a Christmas tree. She said yes.
I thought Larry and I would need to go buy a Christmas tree. But then this morning when I woke up I went outside and there was a potted Christmas tree just sitting there on the front porch.
I told Larry it was there and he said, “It’s our Christmas tree from last year.” I had completely forgotten our whole adventure about this tree!
Here’s what happened...
Just over three years ago I came to live with Larry’s family in California, about an hour’s drive north of San Francisco. I had been born and raised in California until we moved to Florida in 2001, so it was coming home.
Even though Larry and I had been together for 32 years, I had never spent time with his family except for holiday gatherings. Now I was moving into his family home with his 87-year-old mother and two siblings, a brother and a sister. They had all been living in this house together for some years. I was the newcomer.
It had been difficult for all of us to integrate as a family, all living in the same house.
For more than a week, Larry and I had been discussing getting a Christmas tree. We had tried to talk to Mom about it and Larry’s brother, but couldn’t get an answer.
And then something happened within me that resulted in my feeling like I could be part of the family. It wasn’t so much that they had been excluding me as I had been excluding myself.
Within an hour of feeling like part of the family, suddenly I ran into Larry’s brother in the hall and he asked me, “What did you want to ask me the other day?” When I told him I wanted to ask him if he wanted a Christmas tree he said, “No, I don’t want to cut down trees. But I would like us to buy a living tree that I can plant on the hillside after Christmas.”
Of course. Larry’s parents moved to this piece of land more than 25 years ago and built a house. There was a barren knoll next to the house. Every year Larry’s father bought a living tree that was used for the Christmas tree and then planted it on the barren knoll. Today there is a lush and beautiful forest there that we all enjoy because Larry’s Dad planted it year by year. I think of it as “The Christmas Tree Forest.”
Larry’s brother told me he wanted us to plant a Norfolk Island Pine and immediately gave me a $10 bill toward the purchase. His sister agreed. Mom said that would be very nice.
Larry’s sister said she would call around and find out where we could buy a Norfolk Pine Tree and how much it cost. But she couldn’t find one.
So later in the afternoon Larry and I decided to go out to two local nurseries that we thought would have potted live trees that we could replant after Christmas. The plan was to do reconnaissance to find out what varieties were available, then bring that information home and see what other tree variety might be acceptable to everyone.
The first nursery didn’t sell Norfolk Island Pines, but had other varieties. They were all well over $100, which was more than we wanted to spend.
Then we went to our favorite local organic nursery. We walked in the door and immediately saw a small potted Christmas tree, about three feet high. Larry walked right over to it and said, “This one. We should get this one. What variety is this tree?”
He looked at the tag. It said NORFOLK ISLAND PINE.
We bought the tree on the spot. It was $45.
We brought the Norfolk Island Pine tree home and everyone loved it. There are five of us and everyone chipped in $10. So it truly is our family tree. We all agreed about it, we all contributed to paying for it, and we all decorated it and enjoyed it together. And in the spring, we’ll honor Dad by adding it to his Christmas Forest.
This was actually the first time in two years of living together that we actually acted like a family by co-operating together for our mutual benefit. For me, that’s the best Christmas present of all.
And now on our third Christmas…well, apparently that Norfolk Island Pine didn’t get planted. Because here is is now, waiting on the porch to come inside to be our Christmas tree once again.