In 1994, as newlyweds anxious to begin our own traditions, my husband and I traveled to William’s Tree Farm to cut down the perfect Christmas tree. I still remember the bright, crisp Saturday afternoon when we held hands on the wagon ride out into the fields. We knew we were breaking the rules of our apartment complex by bringing home a fresh cut tree, so that day we waited until dark and smuggled our tree up and over the second story balcony to our apartment. Lit beautifully with handmade ornaments, we delighted in our first Christmas tree.
In 1995, we bought our first house from a lovely older couple who shared their memories before heading off toward retirement somewhere down south. We wanted to create our own memories special memories in our new old house. That year, we traveled to the William’s Tree Farm with the intention of buying a bigger and better tree that the year before. Out in the woods, it was difficult to judge the size of the tree, but it was so beautiful, we couldn’t help but cut it down. In our tiny little living room, our perfect tree was 8 feet in diameter at the base and our living room was only 11 feet wide. Though we could barely get around it… we laughed, we wanted a memorable tree and we got one.
In 1996, we became parents. Noah was only three months old when we bundled him up like the Michelin man and headed out to William’s Tree Farm once again. This year we brought out our chocolate lab and a tape measure. Our tree was smaller, but just as special. It was the first time we celebrated Christmas a family.
A few years later, my husband had surgery right before the holidays. It was the first year that we had not made it out to the tree farm. Some years are more difficult than others but we stuck together as a family and though different, Christmas was still special. We managed to assemble my grandparent’s artificial tree from the 1960’s without directions. It looked, well… artificial.
One year Christmas season our family was so incredibly busy. We had another baby boy, Gabriel and desperately wanted to get out to William’s Tree Farm to pick out our tree. They days were going by fast and Christmas was quickly approaching. So, on a Tuesday night at seven o’clock at night, we bundled up the boys and went to pick out our tree in the dark. It was the most perfect tree ever! Everyone who came to our house oooh’d and ahhh’d over our perfect tree.
Not to disrupt a good thing, the following year we intentionally went to buy our tree in the dark. This one wasn’t so perfect… the trunk leaned to the left and there was a big hole in it after we picked the squirrel nest out of it. It turns out that the hole perfectly showcased a large ornament we had. Since the tree had a tendency to lean one direction, we spun it so the tree appeared to be leaning toward the onlooker. It was our 3D tree.
In 2007, our family moved to Nairobi, Kenya. We were to serve as missionaries for the next few years. For the first two weeks, we were joined by a dozen or so Americans to work with the impoverished children in the slums. On that journey, we met Karen, Cory and Emily Williams. Little did we know that they owned William’s Tree Farm, and little did they know that we had been there customers for years. For the first time, I learned that there was more than one golden retriever on the farm… I just thought the one was very good at getting around. And for the first time we all realized that we shared the same passion for helping others. We did have a Christmas tree per say while we lived in Africa, it wasn’t quite the same. Our first Christmas back in the states, we resumed our Christmas tradition… the only difference now is the friendships and personal connection we now have to the Farm and the Williams.
Like most other families that travel out to William’s Tree Farm on cold, snowy winter days we love to cut down our very own tree, sample a sugar cookie and sip hot cocoa. But more than anything, it’s the memories that we create that last well beyond the Christmas season.
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