COLUMN: Creating new Christmas traditions

Blogger Pauline Buck describes her family's tradition of finding the perfect Christmas tree.

by Pauline Buck, Contributor

There’s nothing like the honest , shoot-from-the-hip way little boys tell you how they feel about something.  And if the little boys happen to be your grandsons, it’s even better.

My husband Bill and I are heading into our fourth Christmas in Abbotsford. In August 2008, when most of our near-retirement friends were downsizing, we left our 1600 sq. ft. condo in Vancouver to move into a 3000 sq. ft. house on five acres of farmland in Abbotsford. (Talk about upsizing!)

There were two key reasons we decided to forego city life to become urban farmers. And they both live down the street with our daughter and her husband. Our grandsons were 4 and 5 when we moved here and my “grandmother hormones” were going crazy. The only cure was daily hugs.

Our first Christmas on the farm we didn’t have a Christmas tree. We were renovating.

Christmases two and three were another story.  I was so excited to be living “out in the country” that I wanted everything we did to be old-fashioned traditional.  And as for the Christmas tree, no artificial or parking-lot tree for us. We were going to select our own tree right from the source.

In light of the fact that neither Bill nor I had ever cut down a tree in our lives, we opted to visit a beautiful Christmas tree lot slightly off the beaten path where families have the choice to  cut their own trees or purchase lovely cultured ones that had been pruned to look “designer-tradition.”

The day we chose was perfect: clear, sunny and cold with just a sprinkling of snow on the ground. We picked up the kids and made our way to Christmas wonderland. Carols and Santa songs were playing through all the tree lots; the aroma of hot chocolate and apple cider mingled with the scents of pine and cedar boughs; blowup Santas made great props for pictures, and candy canes were available at every refreshment station.

While Bill and I selected a beautiful tree, the boys ran around the property sampling all the hot chocolate and candy canes they could find. Then we all carried our Christmas tree to the van and headed home with strains of Bing Crosby’s White Christmas ringing in my head.

Last year, we repeated  our new tradition with slightly different results. The day was pouring rain and windy. The cold blew right through us as we clambered out of the van. Our hats and scarves were hard pressed to stay on, and our coats were soaked through in minutes. The boys ran straight for the hot chocolate, and Bill and I made the fastest tree transaction we could manage. Is it green? Does it stand up? We’ll take it. Then we played the “senior” card so the young guys who worked there would carry the tree to our vehicle.

A couple of weeks ago when I was at the Co-op buying food for the chickens (we’ve got this farm-thing down pat now) I saw very real-looking artificial trees on sale for a terrific price. I wanted to get one but was worried what the kids would say. Nanny and Grampa had started the great tradition of the family outing to select a tree. What would they think if we wimped out?

So I sat them down, explained  we were thinking of getting an artificial tree, which would mean we wouldn’t be going out to the Christmas Tree lot this year and what did they think?

Their quick response? “Can we still have hot chocolate?”

My immediate reply: “You bet!”

And so a new Nanny and Grampa Christmas tradition was born.

Pauline Buck is a local blogger who writes on urban/rural living topics.