Days 2017

Days 2017

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

The Hunt, 2015

I don't do Black Friday.  To me there is no more deeply visceral feeling of absolute misery than to be out in the cold and dark early on a winter morning.  (I think this has something to do with early morning seminary in Montana while at the same time as being a die-hard night owl.)  Seeing your breath when you should be seeing the insides of your eyelids, under the covers.  Brrrrr.  I do not fathom how my Dad can handle getting up multiple times in the night in the coldest part of February to check on his new baby calvies all these years.  That gene skipped me (and I don't even stay up late anymore!)  I admit, I do not get up with my teenager to bond with her before she catches the bus.  Perhaps this will change someday, but for now, an "I love you" when she comes to my room to fetch her phone is about it.  Bad mom.

But wait...I did do something pretty awesome this year to be the kind of mom I want to be.

Last year I coveted something that was my neighbor's.  It was a Christmas tree, fresh from The Wild.  Instead of continuing to envy, I quizzed her about it, took notes, and contacted her again this fall.  She helped me navigate the Utah world of Christmas tree hunting.  We always cut our own tree in Montana growing up and it was no big deal, but we've never done it here so my kids have never had that experience.  Time for mom to step it up.  Which leads me back to the Black Friday thing.

This is what I was doing at 7:30 AM in NEPHI, UTAH, (not even my same county) mid November, at a hardware store of all places.  AND I had to drive through a blizzard to get there!  Mark said he was super stressed the whole time I was gone and wished he had just done it himself.  I thought it was no big deal (other than the waking up early to go be in the cold and dark) having been raised in such conditions, and I even turned on the Christmas music channel even though I am usually super opposed to that kind of jumping-the-gun before Thanksgiving.
There were hundreds of people standing in line, and we were informed that the tree permits would definitely sell out.    Lucky for me, I was somewhere in the middle of the line and came away with my prize for the morning.

Then the waiting began.  First we had to get through Thanksgiving, which was very nice and particularly festive because we are welcoming three new in-laws to the Day family this season and we got to get to know them a little better.  All of Mark's siblings were there.
From top:  Mark, DeAnn, Kathy, Dwight, Frances, Sharon, Paul

We also had fun attending a double bridal shower for my niece and soon-to-be niece-in-law.  Leslie was in charge of a game where we quizzed the grooms and then had the bride's guess their fiance's answer.  If they got it wrong they had to put a big fat piece of gum in their mouth.  To add to the fun, we also quizzed Grandpa Day and had Grandma answer.  She sort of flunked.  They all did at some point, it was pretty funny.
Janika learned that Nathan's favorite food is homemade bread.
Stephanie was a little downcast when Spencer remembered the topic of their first fight--and she didn't think they'd had one;)
Grandpa's answer to several of the questions was "Ice Cream!"  But ask him what he wants on a dessert island?  A blanket.  Open wide, Frances!
Their jaws were starting to hurt, although Janika managed to blow a bubble.
Christmas crept closer.
We hung the stockings on our fencepost and made lots and lots of goodies.  This year Leslie did the dreamsicle fudge and Boston did the raspberry shortbread bars.  Everyone helped wrap the carmels.
Then, it was time for the Great Hunt.  Our tags were good for certain sections of the Manti-LaSalle National forest.  Luckily there was one acceptable area not too far from our home, so one beautiful Saturday morning we piled into the Dodge Yak.

That was our first mistake.
 As you can see, there was much more snow than I was anticipating (although we did have the foresight to bring the sleds), and we do not have snow tires or 4-wheel drive.  Duh.  In this picture the van is parked at the bottom of a long hill.  That we backed down very carefully after sliding down and subsequently getting high centered just past the left side of the photo there.

We were stuck for a good 45 minutes and didn't see another single vehicle--our second mistake was that we didn't come with someone else.  We tried putting branches and gravel under the wheels, going back and forth and sideways, etc., while the kids sledded on the side of the road.  Finally I volunteered to hike up the mountain to see if I could get cell coverage and Mark continued to work on the problem.  He was to honk at me if he got unstuck.  A few minutes later, as he found himself down on his knees digging under the van, it occurred to him that since he was on his knees the same time I was on top of the hill, having found zero cell coverage, and was offering a prayer of my own.  I said "Amen" and the horn honked.  He had simply climbed back into the van and backed out of our position without incident.

After finding a better landing place, we split up into teams (3rd mistake) and went looking for the perfect tree.  I wanted a nine-footer for sure.  Macy and Boston came with me, and our 4th mistake was that I underestimated how difficult it was to even locate a fir tree, let alone an evenly branched out 9-footer.  Most of the trees were those raggedy brush cedars.  After hiking for quite a while I found one I thought would work just fine, and, as agreed, we started yodeling for the other team to come quick.  No answer.  More yelling, no answer.  We had gone too far to hear each other and were on opposite sides of the hill.  Hoping desperately that Mark wasn't also about to saw down "the perfect tree", I sent Macy and Boss back down the hill to honk the van horn. 

I had the hatchet...

Twenty minutes later I had felled that tree and hauled it a good way down the hill, all by myself.  (A feat of which I am inordinately proud.)  Mark found me (luckily, we had left lots of tracks because he said the kids were pretty clueless about where they were leading him) and we got the tree loaded.  Apparently their team hadn't fared as well because Luke insisted on coming instead of staying in the van with Leslie.  He didn't last long going up the hill and had been howling his guts out for the last half hour, with all of them waiting for us back at the van.

I hadn't heard a thing.  Too busy chopping down trees and such.

 So, mistake number 5 was not bringing a Granny Goodwitch to sit in the car with the little ones passing out Cheese Whiz and crackers.  Missed you Grandma!  I did manage to figure out that Luke was screaming because his boots and ankles were full of snow, and I also hooked up the DVD player that the others had forgotten about to get him to stop crying.  I won't be quitting my day job anytime soon.
 We did remember to pack hot chocolate!  Although mistake number 6 was that we hadn't checked if the cocoa mix had expired.  It was pretty nasty, plus it was too hot so we watered it down with snow, making it both stale AND flavorless.
 It really was a beautiful, very warm day, and the kids had a blast playing in so much snow.

 The way home wasn't so great because we had to go relatively slow on a pretty fast highway with lots of semi-trucks that wanted to pass us.  Mark pulled over to let them pass a few times.  I may have suggested with a contented, cocoa warmed smile that when we do this again we probably need to use a truck so that we can just throw the tree in the back.  Mark said nothing until we pulled into the driveway.

"Never.  Again."

I had him softened up though, once we decided to ditch the traditional tree holder that has frankly never worked well and use a 5-gallon bucket full of rocks instead.  I am sure he was horrified, but his tune changed really fast when it only took us about ten minutes to get the tree straight instead of an hour of near-cursing and snapping at his wife (er, the tree).  We didn't even have to use fishing line to nail it to the wall this year!!  Plus, he had forgotten that I was going to put a tree skirt over our white-trash bucket.  It really looked quite nice, and I kept the tree alive clear until Christmas for the first time in like, our whole marriage, with that much water capacity and that degree of freshness!  I think I heard my vacuum say thank you, mistress.
I also remembered not to showcase his bald spot in the "Putting the angel on the tree" pictures like he usually points out, after the fact.  He says those are his least favorite pictures every year when he looks back through the albums.

After all that work I let him have the place of honor while we decorated the tree.  I seem to remember my Dad claiming this selfsame position after lots of swearing at the tree...although possibly in a different room.  In front of the television.  Although he had usually been the one to chainsaw down the tree and carry it down the mountain.  OH wait...


darcy said...

thanks for the giggles. We managed to cut one down basically in our yard. Maybe you should start growing a couple. ha!

The Haynes Herd said...

I share Mark's feelings. I asked Jake if we even had to have a tree this year seeing as how we are never home to enjoy it over Christmas Break and it's such a mess. What we don't do to build family memories!