Oh, Christmas Tree

Oh, Christmas tree.

In my college social psych class, I remember learning about “the hazing effect.”  Don’t remember if that’s what it’s actually called, or if I just call it that in my head, but the idea is that we like things that we have to work hard for more than we like things we get easily.  When we have to struggle and suffer to get something, our brain tells us that thing is very desirable.  So that we don’t feel like an idiot for struggling for it.  (Thanks, brain!)  This is a scientifically demonstrated phenomenon, and supposedly why frat boys are so loyal to their buddies.

Is that why I think our new Christmas tree is the most beautiful, perfect tree ever there was?

Our family received a very generous gift this year from some of Kane’s coworkers at Laika.  Maybe they noticed that having a new baby in an already sizable family isn’t exactly easy on the old pocketbook.  Or maybe they felt sorry for Kane coming in to work with holes in his shoes and eating left over lettuce for lunch.  (And for once, not because he’s vegan.)  Whatever the reason, they pitched in for us to get a Christmas tree.  All they asked in return was pictures of us cutting it down.

Wait, what?  Cutting what down?  There’s a xmas tree lot around the corner from our house, where a truck brings ready-to-go trees and sells them for $15.  Where does cutting come in?  Oh, we learned where the cutting comes in.  We learned.

So maybe Kane and I wouldn’t have chosen ourselves to go chop down our own tree.  But we’re good sports, and we were very touched by our tree-sponsors’ kindness.  So if cutting pictures they wanted, cutting pictures they’d get.  We found a tree farm just up the road and went there Saturday to get our tree.  We have pictures to prove it.  Both photographs AND drawings.  Somehow, I think the drawings are actually more realistic, but maybe that’s just me.  They’re at the bottom of this post.  You be the judge.

Now, you should know that we have some spirited and opinionated children in our family.  And that just because they accuse you of ruining their lives, that doesn’t mean they’re not having the best time ever.  Spoiler alert:  They have both, since this experience, asked if we could do it again and thanked us for it repeatedly.  But it wasn’t always so sunny.

Now on with the photos.

This first one is of Eila and Shaelyn upon arrival at the tree farm.

Eila's Out


Eila could hardly contain her excitement.



The farm had a sign with an offer almost too good to refuse.


There was a really nice, welcoming guy who drove us in a tractor-trailer-wagon thing out where the trees were.  The wagon ride was fun.

wagon ride


Kane and Eila


Davia and Shaelyn


D, S, K, M


Marley didn’t know what the hell was going on.







The wagon thing looked like this:wagon

The nice man asked what kind of tree we were looking for.  Kane said something about 5 or 6 feet tall.  I said we wanted one that smelled good.  He recommended a douglas fir or a noble fir.  He showed us what those both look like and sent us off into the trees.

what to get




kate and marley


This one was too small:

too small


So here’s where things started to get a little rocky.  We looked at the douglas firs.  Somebody said they weren’t the right shade of green.  We looked at the noble firs.  Somebody said they weren’t Christmasy enough.  Did I mention it was starting to get dark at this point?  Or that none of us thought to wear boots (to a farm), and we were wading around in gooey, slippery mud?

I said we could forget about douglas firs and noble firs.  Who cares how it smells?  I have fir tree essential oil at home, I said, offering to make any tree smell christmasy.  That was apparently the wrong thing to say.  “But we can get any tree you want!” I said to the disgruntled children.  Somebody said the trees were too small, too tall.  Too bushy.  Too branchy.  Too piney.  “This one,” I said.  “We’ll get this tree!  It’s the perfect tree!”  Somebody said I was just saying that to try and make her happy.  How dare I.

The adults made an executive decision to choose a tree ourselves, in the hopes that we could get it home by midnight.  Kane got down in the mud and cut down our perfect tree.







We were the only ones for miles around until the moment the tree was falling, and then it was inches away from falling in the lap of some guy walking by.  He wasn’t mad.  Or if he was, we couldn’t hear him over the screaming.  What screaming?  This screaming: “Wait!  I found the tree I want!”

screamingYou can see somebody off in the distance in this picture.

Somebody had decided on a tree.  The tree we just cut down?  No, a different tree.  Can’t we just tell them we changed our mind?  No, no we can’t.

this tree

This tree.  We’re getting this tree.  The one I just cut down.


Next, Kane dragged our 150lb tree off into the darkness, saying he’d be back for us.  Too many of the little ones needed to be carried through the mud for me to do it alone, so we had to wait for Kane to come back.  I held the crying baby in one arm, and held the 3-year-old’s hand with my other while she danced in the mud.  One tweenager was crying, sorry that she “ruined everything.”  The other tweenager was pissed off at us for making the first one cry.  (That’s this cute and annoying thing she’s done since she was tiny.  Don’t mess with her sister!)  I told her that sometimes when people are mad, they give “the silent treatment.”  Had she ever tried it?  It might be a good idea.  She didn’t think so.

Ten years later, Kane got back.  We all tramped through the mud back to the waiting spot for the tractor.  At least I think we were at the right spot.  We couldn’t see anything.  We just stood there in the dark and the cold and the mud, happy that at least the sound of chainsaws was drowning out the sounds of our children.  It must have been the waiting spot, because finally the wagon arrived and took us back to the parking lot.  we did it


We split into two groups to go home.  Davia, Marley and I went straight home.  Kane, Shaelyn and Eila stopped at the store to get some lights for our new tree.  They also got pretzels and rolos to make “reindeer poop.”  We came home and Kane set up the tree and strung up the lights.

That night, in our cozy living room, by our beautiful, perfect tree, we all played the Smurf Game.  That’s where one person has to guess a verb that everyone else has agreed on, based on the context when people use the verb in sentences but replacing it with “smurf.”  Like if the word is swimming, the clues might be, “I love smurfing in summer,” and “I don’t like smurfing in the ocean,” and “Some people smurf in the nude!”

You wouldn’t know, watching us talk about smurfing this and smurfing that and laughing, that we had all almost killed one another just hours before.  And our tree really is perfect.  See?

xmas tree

It was so perfect that that night, the big girls slept in sleeping bags on the floor next to it.  In the morning, I took this picture of them, with Marley photo bomb:

marley photo bomb


I don’t know if it’s the hazing effect that makes me love this tree.  And I don’t know if it’s the hazing effect that makes me love this family.  But I do, and I do.

Merry Christmas!


by Kane


by kate


by Kane


by Shaelyn


by Shaelyn


by Kate


by Kate


by Kane