Going to the mountains with your family is always rewarding, especially, when the goal of the outing is to procure the family Christmas tree.
The earliest memories I have of getting a Christmas tree for our family home go back over 40 years. We bundled up in snowsuits, snow boots, hats, and gloves/mittens and made our way to the Cherry Creek area on the North side of Ferris Mountain. Ferris Mountain is located in the south-central part of Wyoming. Typically, this was a three-generational family gathering. My paternal grandparents, uncles, father, brother, sister, and I would make the short trip to Ferris Mountain and hunt for Christmas trees. This day stood out for me on the calendar because my family, all hard-working, seldom had the opportunity to get together and enjoy one another’s company in such a tranquil environment. I looked forward to it every December. Even though it was a lot of work for young, short legs to trudge through deep snow, I did not mind. The excitement of getting our much anticipated family Christmas tree overcame any anguish in the actual process of doing so. Like any day spent on a mountain, it was special.
To me, carrying on this tradition was of great importance. In my early adult years, I liked to go to the Dry Park Area of the Snowy Range in southeastern Wyoming to search for Christmas trees. My wife, children and I went there for many years to retrieve a tree to help us celebrate the holiday. I did my best to make the experience of getting a family Christmas tree memorable; secretly hoping my children would care enough to carry on the tradition.
In subsequent years, I cut many trees in the Hesse Creek area of the Bighorn Mountains in north-central Wyoming. My children had grown older. I think they patronized me and my desire for wanting to harvest the “perfect” Christmas tree. We usually spent the better part of a day breaking paths through deep snow. Our goal was to find a tree of suitable height and girth. Hundreds of trees would be passed over in our search for the ideal one. This, also, afforded me time to teach them navigational and woodsmanship skills. By day’s end, we would be exhausted. Sating hot chocolate from an old thermos helped warm us internally. The adventure of getting a Christmas tree, at least to me, was always a labor of love.
We would always bring our treasured tree home and, even though we were suffering from exhaustion, decorate it. Our weariness and fatigue was quickly forgotten. My maternal grandmother had an annual tradition of giving her grandchildren a new ornament for the Christmas tree. This tradition continued even in her advanced years. She went to be with the Lord a few years ago. I still have most of those ornaments. They decorate our Christmas tree every December. The ornaments are subtle reminders of how my grandmother was so thoughtful, generous, and caring; a true testament to the holiday-Christmas.