Christmas is a time of year that is steeped in traditions, some passed down from generation to generation, some newly started. It is also tends to be a time of year when we put so much pressure on ourselves to create that perfect family Christmas, or at least what we perceive to be that experience. Often we are left feeling we didn’t quite measure up to all of those expectations.
When our children were small, we began the tradition of trekking out to the woods as a family, in search of the perfect Christmas tree. Over the years, we created many wonderful memories of those times spent with our kids. Family spending quality time together, happily frolicking through the woods in search of the perfect tree. Sounds lovely, doesn’t it?
It looks something like this
Funnily enough, the experience in this photo are not the moments or the memories that are recalled most often. Instead, it is the not so perfect family moments! You know the ones. What starts out to be a wonderful adventure soon spirals into a bit of freak show.
I was reminded of all of this the other day when my daughter messaged me to tell me that, in the midst of she & her husband putting up their Christmas tree, she got to telling him about one of our family jaunts out to the Christmas tree farm. You guessed it, the less than perfect one!
She went on to share as she recalled the story, she was laughing so hard, she ended up in tears. Not sad tears but the ones that have you trying to catch your breath because you are laughing so hard!
Admittedly, it was not one of our more proud family moments but, out of all of the years that we cut down trees together, it is still the one that gets told most often.
As I watch the next generation of parents attempting to create beautiful family moments together, I offer you this wee bit of advice, particularly around Christmas time.
Cut yourself some slack!
Trust me when I tell you, somewhere along the road of raising your children, you will do & say things that are not considered the best way to handle a situation. I guarantee that, although these incidents may mortify you at the time, they will likely end up being the stories most often told in years to come.
So here is our epic fail, not so perfect, family Christmas tree cutting experience.
Our children were in their late teens and the spirit of going out to cut down our Christmas tree quite possibly, was wearing a little thin. After much moaning & groaning, I think I may have threatened that if they didn’t want to go, I would happily just go to a local lot & grab one.
This statement was met with looks of disbelief, shrieks of disdain & most likely the thought that Mom had lost her mind. That being said, we all grudgingly suited up & made our way into the car.
This particular year we hooked my husband’s landscape trailer to our vehicle, thinking that it would be much easier to toss the tree into the trailer rather than having to tie it down to the roof.
After checking the lights on the trailer (10 times minimum) & tossing in the handsaw, we headed off to the tree farm as we had done for so many years before.
As we got closer to the farm, the mood in the car lightened, in anticipation of picking out the perfect tree.
It was a beautiful winter day and there was a fresh layer of snow of the ground. Although this created a lovely vista, the roads at the tree farm are not plowed so driving in became a bit of a challenge.
Not to worry, my husband is a very good driver AND he is Canadian. Although he had to take a run at a couple of the hills, this only confirmed his impressive driving skills. High fives all around!
Until the unthinkable happened.
As we took a run at the next hill, the road suddenly turned to the left. Unfortunately, between the depth of the snow & the balding tires, the trailer jack-knifed & despite my husband’s valiant attempts to get us out of this pickle, we were not going anywhere.
profanities words were exchanged, when the level of frustration escalated to a whole new playing field. One of total panic! The concern was that someone else might gun the hill & run into us. This sent my husband into, what I will call, a profanity spiral.
As we stood outside of the vehicle
yelling at one another, exchanging banter, I heard the car doors slam as both of our children exited the vehicle proclaiming they weren’t going to listen to this shit crap & scattered off into the woods in different directions.
As I stood there listening to the profanity stricken man I was married to, & watched my children disappear into the woods, I found my self thinking, we are the worst family ever! We can’t even come out & cut down a GD Christmas tree together & enjoy the experience!
If my memory serves me correctly, I think someone stopped & took pity on us to help us out of our jam. Probably another family who had likely experienced a not so perfect moment just like ours! Secretly, they were thanking the Gods that it was someone else’s turn this year:)
With our vehicle out of danger, we now set off in search of our children. Somehow we all managed to pull ourselves together & set off to find a tree. Perhaps they all just took pity on me & sucked it up for my benefit. It doesn’t really matter now, it is just a funny story to tell!
So, as we head into the holidays, enjoy all that this time of year brings. Focus on what matters & forgive yourselves for your not so perfect moments. Someday, in the not so distant future, you too, may find yourself recalling a story that brings you to tears.