Every year for 12 years now we have hiked out into the forest to find the “perfect” Christmas tree. Typically, we go out on a beautiful sunny day, so the hike isn’t too cold or difficult. This year, the timing of the tree adventure was difficult, and it had to happen this past weekend. But, this weekend we ended up with the biggest snow storm of the season, coupled with the coldest temperatures. My brother was here for the weekend, and Brian was REALLY excited to go get the tree. He has been asking for a week. So, we bundled up in 3 layers each, and set out with 3 adults, 2 kids under the age of 5, a dog, a sled and a saw. We were planning to take the baby backpack, but decided not to and took the sled instead.
We were seriously 10 feet from the car, and Andrew said, “Carry me.” This was not going to be good. We put him in the sled, fully prepared to pull him all the way up the mountain, but the snow was deep enough and of the right consistency, that it kind of sunk into the snow and created a natural 9 inch barrier to get over every couple feet. On top of that, Andrew couldn’t manage to stay sitting up in the sled, kept falling over, and thus began crying. The crying began at 10:15 AM.
My husband, scooped Andrew up, and carried him on his shoulders for a long way, while breaking trail through 9 inches of fresh snow. In the meantime, Brian started whining about how difficult the trek was. He was cold, he was hot, it was too hard, he was tired, “could you carry me?” We were pretty stern with him and let him know in no uncertain terms that we were NOT carrying him (45 pounds) and that he would stop whining, or there would be no tree this year. He mostly pulled it together, just in time for Andrew to lose his marbles completely. He wasn’t happy sitting on our shoulders and refused to walk or sit in the sled. There were no other options. We battled through a couple rounds of him laying down in the snow and wailing into the sky that he “wanted to go home!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”. But, we weren’t going home, not at that point. We were going to finish this torturous trek. All the while, I kept thinking, “not all memories are purely joy, right?”.
We made it into the forest and up to the spot where there was a stand of trees to choose from, but the crying never stopped (11 Am now). We were pretty sure that most of his problem was exhaustion, based upon the events that occurred during the previous night. SO, we tried to get him to just lay down, or rest his head on our shoulder, but he was so worked up, he just couldn’t relax.
THANKFULLY, we found a tree very quickly. Sadly, I wasn’t able to join in the fun, as I was tending to Grumpo. In 12 years, I have always either cut the tree myself or at least done 1/2 the work. This year, I wasn’t even nearby.
We had been promising the kids all the way up the mountain that if they made it to the top, they could ride in the sled on the way down. I was sure that would dry up the tears. But, this is how it went. Brian was the kindest, sweetest big brother, letting Andrew have the “driver’s seat” and holding onto him so he didn’t fall out. Andrew accepted the kindness, but did not cease the screaming. Brian was laughing and hooting all the way down the mountain while Andrew was screaming and crying, snot pouring down his face, ALL….THE….WAY….DOWN….THE….MOUNTAIN!
I was sure at this point that something had to be really wrong with him, and I was counting on feeling incredibly guilty when we arrived home to find that he had frozen toes, or a fever or some other invisible ailment.
Knowing how cold it was, and preparing for some whining, and in total super-momma fashion, I brought a Thermos (yep, Thermos, like from the 1950s) full of hot chocolate and some cups. We scrambled the kids into the car as quickly as possible, strapped them into their car seats and I poured them some hot chocolate, thinking this would be the Magic Bullet. It had to work. It always works. But, the crying never stopped. He couldn’t even stop long enough to enjoy the cup of warm goodness.
And, when we got home….Can you believe, I was wrong? He was fine. His socks were a little wet at the top, but not much. He had no fever. His hands were warm. We scooted him directly to bed, without peeing or putting a diaper on (and yes, we paid for that later), and he fell asleep within 5 minutes of hitting his pillow. (Crying stopped 12:10 PM) He slept for nearly 2.5 hours and was back to his normal happy self.
And, when all was said and done, I asked him at dinner:
“What was your favorite part of the day?”
His answer: “Going to get the Christmas tree.”