As I sit here in my townhouse on this snowy Saturday, it is hard not to think what could have been. Initially, I had hoped to be in my new house on the homestead by now, but that is not to be. Still, it does not stop me from thinking about Christmas on the homestead.
As with many Mainers, I remember when I was a small child going out to a local Christmas Tree Farm with my family to choose a tree. My sister and I would tag along behind our parents as they sought out the perfect tree. My Dad would bring a handsaw and cut it down once we finally decided upon one. My sister and I would help drag it out, as that was part of the process. I still have vivid memories years later.
Fast forward a few years and my family opened a Christmas Tree Farm. I remember watching families come, some with small children like myself and my sister years before, and select a tree. It was neat to think that our family could have a small part of their special Christmas morning.
Growing up on a Christmas Tree Farm was not just a ‘December thing.’ The trees were planted from fir seedlings in the summer. We’d have different fields with different size trees. Each summer as my Dad would shear the trees to shape them, my job was to mow the grass between the rows with a small riding tractor and mower. My Dad’s patience was endless with me as more time that I could count I would either get the mower stuck, run over a small tree or a stump. He’d just come help me get unstuck and I’d carry on.
After moving away to college and getting a job, the Farm seemed like the distant past. It was still great memories, but that is all it was anymore – memories. Rarely, if ever, did I make it back there, especially before Christmas.
When I made the decision to return home, snowy Saturdays in December brought a smile to my face. Although we don’t have the Christmas Tree Farm open anymore, being there is still pretty special. It’s where I am currently building my house. We have handfuls of trees throughout the woodlot that my Dad will often give away to some of our friends.
Being able to pick from any tree on the lot is not as easy as it might seem. I am rarely out of work when it is light. This year, I wanted to put a tree in my townhouse for what will hopefully be the last time. I went out after dark with a headlight to choose my tree. I shook off the snow on many a tree before I finally decided on one. It now sits in my living room decorated with lights and brings a smile to my face. As I hang each ornament upon the boughs, the memories flood back. Denali National Park, Iditarod headquarters, Banff National Park, the Outer Banks, and a baseball signifying Maine’s 2005 baseball regional appearance. Nearly every ornament has a special significance.
Each Christmas season I will google the “Maine Christmas Song,” sung by Malinda Liberty. I’ll pull up the YouTube video and watch as the memories of my youth come flooding back. I reminisce about the simpler days. This is the life that I want and that I am trying to create for myself with my homestead.