Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Grinch

Just when I'm feeling an awful lot like the Grinch, somebody goes and does something completely amazing and motivates me to make it through another day. Most recently, it was our Christmas tree hunting expedition that got me thinking. It was actually pretty amazing! Who would think there's anything amazing about getting a Christmas tree?

I had already decided to cut down a tree myself. Trees for Troops had a list of local tree farms and so we headed out to a family-owned farm just outside of town. I brought my nephew, David, to help us. The man who runs the farm is an old World War II vet and David spoke to him while I got the kids ready. He asked about our family and jotted down our names in his little book.

Once I'd gotten everyone out of the van and gotten all 6 of their jackets on, I realized something. Joshua had no shoes. How does a 5-year old leave the house without shoes? Good question. I guess now I need to start checking to make sure everyone has their shoes on before we go anywhere. I would expect that from the girls, which is why I check them, but Joshua is old enough that I thought he'd have the common sense not to go outside with just socks on in the winter. Silly me!
The tree farmer (is that what he's called?) helped me get my half dozen into the wooden trailer attached to his little red tractor. The kids were thrilled with the short ride between the rows of tall pine trees. The kids were anxious to examine each tree and find a suitable specimen to grace the bay window in our living room.
Because Joshua had no shoes, he got to stay with Ryan in the trailer. The tree farmer offered to hold Nathan and even though I had just met him, I felt instantly at ease and agreed. That kind, gentle, old man couldn't stop smiling at my blonde, blue-eyed, little guy! It was the sweetest thing.
Meanwhile, Sarah and Leila were intent on bringing home a Charlie Brown tree. Sarah didn't like any tree that was taller than her. Matthew and I disagreed, and we sought out the tallest tree we could find. The tree has definite character. It's not a prefect tree, and it's got a bit of a bare spot around the middle. But it is the perfect tree for us.

I showed David how to cut the tree with the saw. After watching him struggle for a few minutes, Matthew stepped in and offered to help. Actually, Matthew said "You don't know what you're doing! Let me do it!" I chuckled as Matthew struggled with David helping him and nearly severed his arm. I decided that I didn't want to stand there all day (or visit the ER) so I cut it down myself. It was fast and easy, as smooth as butter.
The tree farmer loaded the 8-foot pine into the bucket of his tractor. The kids piled back into the trailer and we set off for the farm house. It was so much fun! I wish I'd brought my camera but I wouldn't have had a free hand anyway. I snapped a few pictures on my phone as we rolled past all of the fragrant trees.
When we got back to the house, David and the farmer bound the tree and we hoisted it up onto the van. As I pulled out my checkbook to pay, the farmer took my hands in his and smiled warmly. "This is my gift to you," he said. He refused to let me pay, instead telling me about his own 6 children, one of whom is currently serving in Iraq. He said he wanted to donate the tree to our family and I had tears in my eyes as I thanked him. What a generous thing for him to do for our family. It might not seem like much, but to me, it was one of those random acts of kindness that just touches you in some special way.
I drove home and dragged the tree inside where we promptly strung the lights and started decorating. I also formulated a plan in my mind to contact the local newspaper and see if they would write an article about the tree farm we'd visited. If I could help them get some business, it'd be the least I could do for that sweet man.

Although the days are even more stressful right now, and I feel like I'm ready to crack, I'm constantly reminded of my blessings. Whether it's a fresh Christmas tree or just big hugs from my 6 little ones, I have to smile. Really, I have to smile... so I can get through another day.

The other day I let the kids watch the Dr. Seuss classic, "The Grinch That Stole Christmas." Matthew calls it "The Grinch That Tried To Steal Christmas." When I corrected him, he got defensive. "No Mommy. Christmas is Jesus' birthday and nobody can steal that, not even the Grinch." Well said, Matthew. Now if I can just remember that everyday, I'll be a lot less Grinchy myself.

Oh, and have you seen the holiday Hershey's Kisses? My addiction is back. I bought 4 bags last night. Yikes.

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