When our children were small, we bundled up the day after Thanksgiving and went in search of the perfect Christmas tree. It stayed up until Epiphany, giving us six weeks of fragrant pine scent in the house. Of course, by the time we took it down, it was dry tinder and I was a little anxious about candles and electrical outlets near the tree.
Now that we wait for kids to return from college each Christmas, we also wait on our search for the tree. This means a shorter time to appreciate the beauty and smell of it, but that has not lessened our enjoyment. We love climbing into the car, finding a tree farm, and taking about an hour to look for the best tree on the lot. Some years the fields are deep with snow. This year it was pretty clear, except the snow that had hardened to ice during multiple rains over the past weeks. And so we slid our way up their hilly paths, wondering why we all forgot to wear our LL Bean spikes on our feet so the ice would not be a problem. Ben is recovering from three broken ribs, so I was especially worried about his falling. In the end I was the only one who took a tumble. Several of us did end up sliding down the hill on our bottoms, which was our solution to the problem.
We ran into good friends up on the hill. Since none of us had visited this farm before, it was pure happenstance; a gift. Joy is running in to friends in an unexpected place and enjoying the moment. They helped us identify which trees were Fraiser Fir and which were Balsam. I wanted a Balsam this year so I can dry the needles and make fragrant sachets this summer. Nothing smells as good as the scent of balsam.
We loaded our trees on our cars; scooped up a few extra greens to make wreaths at home; petted their horse, Ginger; and bought some of their award-winning maple syrup from the farm's own trees. We saw the sap hoses still strung through the forest during our search. Many thanks to Balsam Ridge Farm for the wonderful pre-Christmas experience and memory. It joins a long line of memories about wonderful afternoons filled with the adventure of the hunt, the sting of cold air, the fun of being together, and joy.
Some other highlights of our Portland, Maine Christmas this year:
The Harbor Boat Parade and Fireworks on Casco Bay
Caroling in Deering Center with neighbors
Live Nativity at Deering Center church
Traditional Christmas Pageant at St. Luke's Episcopal Cathedral
Egg Nog and cookies with family and friends at Black Cat Coffee Shop