The stoop is ready for Christmas

The sun was out Tuesday morning. The skies were blue and a cold breeze whipped through the neighborhood, threatening to dislodge the few orangish brown leaves that somehow have yet to lose their grip on the Bradford Pear tree that shades the front stoop. They'll be gone soon, those hold-out leaves - their resolve to remain linked to life and limb at the mercy of the wintry wind. 

That's not to say that there's no longer anything to draw your eye to our house. Flip a switch and the holiday lights I've draped over the box bushes out front begin shimmering in the evening. And if you look through the bay window when strolling by at night, you'll see our colorfully lit Christmas tree standing tall in the living room. 

My wife and I agree that we got a pretty good tree this year, maybe the best we've had in years. It has that perfect Christmas tree triangle shape. It's nice and full and is in no danger of tipping over. Unlike so many others before it, that tree stands up straight in its stand - rock solid and steady as a sentinel. It's also the perfect height, meaning we didn't have to trim it to keep the star we use as a topper from scraping the ceiling.   

We came by that tree through a happy accident. We bought it at the farmer's market outside town instead of cutting it down at the tree farm we usually go to. 

We've been cutting down our tree at the same farm since the kids were little. It's a picturesque place tucked away in the folds of West Virginia's Eastern Panhandle. The two barns on the family owned property are weathered grey with age and lines of trees dot the rolling landscape. They look as if they are at sea, undulating with the waves. Park an old pickup truck in front of one of those old barns with a pile of straw bales artfully spilling from its bed and you've got a holiday picture worthy of Hallmark. 

We had an incentive to keep the family tradition alive this year. Just as we were leaving,  my wife wistfully pointed out that this may be the last year the four of us together fetch the Christmas tree home. The kids are grown now, our son is a college graduate and our daughter is working toward her undergraduate degree. They're both home for the pandemic -- here for now, but who knows where they will be next year when it comes time to choose the next tree that graces our living room.

On the way out to the tree farm, my wife talked with a friend of hers and found out it had already closed for the season. Apparently, the pandemic forced it stop selling trees early, but not for the reason you may think. My wife's friend told her that the farm simply had run out of trees ready to be felled. There had been a run at the farm the previous weekend. Regulars were ostensibly joined by others who are planning to stay home rather than take a holiday trip to the beach or visit out-of-town friends and family. Anecdotal, yes - but it seems some people are doing the right thing to keep the virus from spreading during the holidays. 

I admit to being disappointed at having to turn the car around. But while the pandemic disrupted our annual holiday trip to the tree farm, the kids were still with us to haul one home. 

And it really is a pretty great tree. 


  1. After our kids left for college we went from going out to search for our tree to going back to the artificial one from the attic we used over 20 years ago. Turns out the December cold I always had may have been a slight allergy to the tree. Still miss the kids excitement at picking out the perfect tree and how proud they were after it was up though!

  2. We got a great tree too from the Knights of Columbus at St Mary's Fairfax Station...our usual spot since our local tree farm closed and became McMansions. I will NEVER have a fake tree again. My childhood was scarred by an aluminum tree and a heavily snow flocked tree when we lived overseas.


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