Last Saturday my wife and I made our annual trek to Snicker’s Gap Farm about 16 miles west of Leesburg, Virginia to cut a fresh Christmas tree. This usually marks the beginning of our holiday celebration and we enjoy the smell of a fresh cut tree in our house and the fact that it doesn’t dry out as fast as the ones you buy at the Christmas tree lot.
We also like the name of the place – Snicker’s Gap Farm. Twelve or thirteen years ago when we first started the tradition, there was just a handful of people (18-20) at the farm when we arrived. Things have changed over the years and now the parking lot has expanded to handle about 150 cars. After you cut the tree you drag it down the mountain (hill) and someone will put it on a “tree shaker” that shakes all the dried needles off. Then they run it through a binder that ties it up to make it easier to transport home. This year we waited in the “shaker” line for about an hour because of the number of people. It was a sunny day – cold and a bit windy up on the hillside – but it was a pleasant time talking to the other tree cutters and watching the children roll down the hill for fun and seeing a wide variety of beautiful dogs that were brought along by their owners. I promised my wife as we stood on the hillside looking out at the beautiful Virginia countryside that I would NOT be a grouch for Christmas like I think I was last year, and I would make every effort to be happy and cheerful for Christmas and hopefully that attitude would carry over into the new year.
Now let me say that I’m usually a pretty happy fellow. My workmates often comment on my positive attitude and certainly I have every reason to be happy. God has blessed me with a beautiful family and a rich life experience. But I guess I just think that we should be overwhelmingly happy during the holidays and so I have to make promises to myself and keep reminding myself for that to happen. And that concerns me.
There are other Christmas “traditions” that we follow each year. The reason we get our tree in the first weekend of December is that on the second Monday we have a multi-family FHE and we make care packages for the missionaries from our ward and the soldiers serving from our ward. The night is filled with singing and merrymaking and we usually have 7 or 8 families there at our house.
Another tradition is my writing a Christmas letter in poetry form (yes, it’s another one of those boring Christmas letters). One or two of my wife’s elderly aunts plead with me to do it every year because they say it’s the only way they can keep track of us living so far away. So it can become a burden to do but I’m always satisfied when I get it done.
So I worry that it takes so much work for me to be jolly when I have so much to be jolly about. What do you do to get into and remain in the Christmas spirit?