the wild and crazy Christmas tree adventure

Lars showing off the new mittens I made for him ❤️

The irony was, we spent weeks negotiating the day to cut our Christmas trees. With so many conflicting schedules, and Hans only home for a few days, I honestly thought we wouldn’t find a time.

I love that my children love this tradition and I was delighted when after much negotiation, honest discussion, some hurt then healed feelings, we all managed to meet at 8 am on the Saturday after Thanksgiving for the annual Christmas Tree Cutting Adventure.

Because we needed to be home early, we took some advice to hunt for our tree just past Tooele, in Stockton. We were told we probably wouldn’t see any snow, but it would be less driving and we could find a beautiful tree.

Three lies.

The First Attempt

Yep, that’s Stockton. I guess if we’d paid attention, we would know they’d suffered forest fires this fall. Still, we persisted and followed another family up a steep, unpaved road where they promised beautiful trees.

Fritzie really wanted this one. We decided to let it grow. The forest really needs every last tree.

So we jumped in the car again and drove until the check engine light came on in my car and everyone was crying.

Actually no one cried. As Ben said, it was so bad we could only laugh.

driving through Mordor

Xander showing off his memes

The Second Attempt

We went to another spot where others claimed success at finding trees, but we aren’t sure how. Yes, I know the photos look like a Christmas tree lot, but those are really just giant shrubs– each Juniper wider than it is tall.

We didn’t find a tree, but we did laugh a lot. Once again, Sammie captured the day with an oh-so-brilliant video:

Back home, we picnicked on the floor, Gabe opened up every single day of his advent calendar and we basked in a leisurely afternoon of NOT decorating a tree.

Look, I know my obsession with a real tree is sentimental, unreasonable, and a lot of work. I completely understand the appeal of a faux, pre-lit tree that requires minutes to set up, rather than an all day adventure.

Still, I just looked up 15′ artificial trees and they cost 4-8K. We usually get a 20′ tree for $20, so I’m feeling a little better about the hassle. And, well, we love it. It’s the drive, the lack of food, singing along to country music, the snowball fights and yes, the complaints. Our complaints are part of the tradition.

When I said out loud, “I know this tradition is dying.” All my kids protested. Maybe it didn’t work out this year, maybe they couldn’t take another weekend to go, but they look forward to the yearly tree adventure.

Third Time’s the Charm

The very next Saturday, Gabe and Mary graciously sacrificed homework time to join us for our traditional (and now we are never changing, never going anywhere else) drive to Evanston, WY then back south into Utah where we’ve gone for so many years. They’d closed the road because of snow. Erik kept up the complaining tradition when we were told we needed to hike at least 1/2 mile to the tree cutting area.

We were in a silly, silly mood.

I agreed to the very first tree we found. Several feet shorter than our usual choice, but I knew we had a long haul back to the car.

Both our babies claimed the opportunity to cut the tree– something they’d never been allowed with all their siblings around.

Erik showed off his best side.


And a moose.

Erik loves how much easier it is to balance and light a 12′ tree, rather than a 20′ monster. So maybe that’s the revised tradition? We do the drive and the snowball fights, we take along an entire pumpkin pie but forget sandwiches, we make jokes about ugly trees and shove snow down each others backs, we sing along to Walker Hayes’ “just trying to stay out of AA,” and we cut a slightly smaller tree. I can adapt.

And as always, it’s magical.

December 9, 2022
December 31, 2022



  1. ellen patton

    December 16, 2022

    We used to get our Christmas tree near the train tracks in LA and there was always a family fight. #tistheseason

  2. Anne Marie

    January 4, 2023

    SO SO beautiful!!! I love all of this! The storytelling and the pictures. Pure magic!! I love how everyone rallied behind the tradition

    Sending lots of hugs to you this new year! Xoxo

    And Mary is just radiant and so lovely!

  3. Anne Marie

    January 4, 2023

    And those mittens you made are gorgeous!!

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