This past weekend my husband and I and our four boys all loaded into the family truckster and headed deep into the Western Montana woods in search of the perfect Christmas tree. Every year we go through this somewhat painful family tradition, and all seem to come out alive and with a pretty decent tree. I’ll give you a little insight into how these tree hunting trips usually go.

We are never well prepared. We always head out to find a Christmas tree with just a few hours of daylight left. All four of the boys pile into the back seat of the truck and my husband and I are in the front. This usually lasts for the first five minutes before a ball or toy comes flying into the front seat. This begins the, “You kids knock it off!” and other general threats from my husband. These threats usually do very little to settle the kids down. By the time we have reached our first tree hunting destination, my husband’s blood pressure matches the noise level of the kids.

At our first stop, everyone and the dog pile out of the truck. The kids run off to find forts in the woods and spend no time looking for a Christmas tree. So the parents search for a tree, and of course, cannot agree on one. This one is too tall, this one isn’t full enough, this one is bald on one side, the list goes on.

So, everyone and the dog load back up into the truck. This time, the loud children are in the back of the truck (with a topper) with the dog, to cut down on the noise level and keep my husband’s head from exploding. We then proceed to drive around for the next hour, again not agreeing on one tree. (All the while the kids in the back are singing and laughing and howling with the dog, basically just having the time of their lives.)

Finally my husband throws his hands in the air and says, “That’s it! We’re not getting a tree!” I take a deep breath and inform him that the tree only has to be up for a week and I don’t care what it looks like, but we are getting a tree today. Wouldn’t you know about two minutes later, (right before dark) there it is, the perfect tree. (Well, the perfect tree for a week anyway.)

So, everyone piles out of the truck and my husband cuts the tree down. Meanwhile the kids are climbing trees and eating snow. Then the tree gets drug to the truck and lugged into the back. Now there’s no room for the dog and the kids in the back, so they end up in the back seat of the truck again. I would love to tell you that we sang Christmas songs the rest of the way home and stopped at people’s houses along the way to carol, but that would be a dirty lie.

I think our Christmas tree hunting could use a little more of the Christmas spirit.

Joy Larson is a mother of four boys, graduate of The University of Montana, animal lover and writer.

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