Growing up in Ireland, I don’t remember ever having a white Christmas, in fact, I can hardly even recall getting much snow at all. Winter weather in Ireland usually meant cold, grey and wet… almost always in the form of rain where the dampness would literally chill you to the bone. On the rare occasion when it did snow, there was usually no more than a dusting, and if you didn’t get outside to enjoy it right away, it’d be gone again within hours. When it comes to winter precipitation here in Maine though, things are a little different, and even though the temperatures dip way lower than what I was used to growing up in Ireland, the cold somehow doesn’t feel as bad… unless of course we get an especially frigid blast of arctic air from way up north of Canada. So, even though a white Christmas might be rare in Ireland, here in Maine the probability of there being snow on the ground come late December is pretty good.
Another tradition from my “growing up in Ireland Christmas” days was putting up a tree in the living room. Ours was never real… trees in Ireland aren’t quite as plentiful as they are here in Maine, though I have to admit I always looked forward to the time when that fake and twinkling little tree was dug out of storage every year, and I can still remember what it looked like balanced precariously on the sideboard. Sideboard… now there’s a word I haven’t used in a while. When we moved to Maine a few years ago we started a family tradition of cutting down our own tree. Not quite a Griswold-ean adventure, but it is nonetheless a highly anticipated day when we visit one of the local farms to harvest our seasonal tree.
This year we decided to change things up a little, and instead of going to Piper Mountain, we headed north toward Dover-Foxcroft and “The Finest Kind” farm about half an hour outside of Bangor. Perched high up on a hillside with panoramic views of the Piscataquis River Valley, the quality of the trees on this farm was exceptional, and we had a grand old time wandering around the expansive property sizing up which tree we were going to bring home. We trekked to the furthest corner of the property just to explore and enjoy our surroundings, and as we made our way back toward the road, we weighed our options and made a decision.
The nice dusting of snow covering the landscape certainly added to the atmosphere, and before long we had settled on the perfect tree. We missed big brother Sam who was busy studying for finals at college, but Jack helped choose and then cut down this year’s tree. He was also fascinated by the rings of freshly cut tree stumps scattered all over the hillside, and he was eager to count and share his findings with us. We talked about what each ring meant, and why some of them might have been larger in some years than others… the poor kid is the son of teachers after all! Just like Sam, Jack loves holidays and the traditions they bring, so he couldn’t wait to get the tree home to decorate it. Didn’t he do a great job? I know that it’s still a little early, but here goes anyway… happy holidays to all 🙂