When I was young, my mom did up our Christmas tree as if it were in a Macy’s Day Magazine. Stunning ribbons and bows, color schemes, and everything in its place. My parents usually fought the entire time because it was stressful on them. My mom, my brother, and I typically put the tree together on our own in the end. Christmas trees in our ranch styled home in Illinois when I was growing up were usually 8 feet tall or higher. They required the help of a ladder to get to spots our arms failed to reach. Many hours were devoted to decorating and we would eat mouthfuls of fire roasted chestnuts late into the night. I loved when it was my turn to put the angel on the tree top. I have many amazing memories of Christmas time as a child. As an adult however, I’ve loved doing things very differently. Having our little mountain farm traditions of hiking to find our perfectly imperfect tree. Allowing Nikolai to decorate it however he sees fit. Letting him take pride in his own artistic abilities while we just help him along the way. We get so much enjoyment out of walking in the woods on our farm as a family to find the right one. Usually a farm cat or two trailing behind us, our dogs in tow. Our trees always have wonky branches, large missing spots with holes, and don’t stand up quite right. We could spend $50-$70.00 on a store bought tree that someone carefully pruned to perfection… but then we would miss out on beautiful mountainous view’s. We would miss reaching the top of the ridge line, or hearing our donkey’s song echo through the valley. We’d skip right over giggling while watching daddy struggle to cut the right spot on the tree, and most of all… we’d miss out on knowing that the tree we chose got to live it’s life on our farm. Planted there by Jesus himself and chosen by us in honor of His earthly birth. Sometimes imperfections are just as magical as perfection and a Charlie Brown tree can be stunning in it’s own right. There’s nothing wrong with wanting a beautiful Christmas tree but I think there’s much joy and thanksgiving to be found in the kind of tree that spent it’s life growing only because God himself let it be so. Having had squirrels run through it’s branches and felt the heat of vibrant red sunrises with its bows raised to the heavens in thanksgiving to our creator. Prayerfully we hope that this time next year we’ll be able to search the acreage we long to add to our farm in order to expand and- if all goes well- bringing our traditions into new territory with more exploration to be had. However things sort out… our bows will be raised for having spent another year of the pandemic alive, together, and continually fed by God.