This year, for the first time ever, we hiked into the forest and cut down our own Christmas tree.
Yes, we did it legally.
Turns out there is a pretty sweet program that helps keep the forest healthy (and a little less likely to go up in a blazing inferno) and also provides a delightful Yuletide tradition for locals.
Upside, it was cheap and our tree is like 9 feet tall.
Downside…it might be just a little bit Charlie-Brown-Christmasy.
It is not full or strong. It’s built...well...rather like me. Awkwardly tall and thin, possibly to an unhealthy degree.
Nevertheless…it is awesome because we found it, we chopped it down, we carried it back to the car, strapped it down, hauled it down the mountain, and decorated all 11 branches with our favorite (and lightest) ornaments.
Weird how the shared experience makes it more meaningful and beautiful than the ideal.
I am often distracted and disappointed chasing after an idealized version of whatever it is that I am pursuing. We have our expectations set on what we think something should look/be like and actually believe that our contentment will come as a result of reaching this ideal. In the process, we sacrifice important things in exchange for this idealized image.
Turns out, process is more important and impactful than perfection.
My kids would not likely glance up to the tree and reminisce, “dad, remember pulling into the Big Lots parking lot and dropping an alarming amount of money on a picture-perfect farm-grown tree (no offense intended to either Big Lots or farms)?
However, we have already reminded one another of my daughter clinging to the (as yet still firmly planted in the ground) tree for dear life as she slipped on the snowy slope and how fun it was to sip chai in the truck after our successful excursion.
The tree...the supposed end...now serves as a symbol—a reminder—of something bigger; our shared experience.
I want to get better at appreciating how the best parts are almost never the destination or the ideal, but are found in the journey of how we got there…
…especially when we got there together.