I worked at my friend’s Christmas Tree Farm this weekend (Oxbow Rim Tree Farm and Treasures)-the first of the three I’ll be there. It was a lot of fun, wearing a funny hat, ringing people up for their trees and wreaths and garland, telling them how many spins they get on the wheel in the Fun Center-based on the number of years they’ve been to the farm-and watching them eat hot dogs, curly fries and elephant ears with steaming cups of hot chocolate, all together as families or groups of friends, making new memories while reliving old ones. There are people who have come there for a tree every year for 36 years-since the farm opened. There are lots of people who’ve been coming there for 10+ years. And there are brand new people coming in because their friends and coworkers told them about this great place (which it really is). But what I’m loving the most is just being able to, ever so briefly, be a part of these family traditions, to play a little role in this year’s Christmas memory. If they were there today, it’s a memory full of a whole lot of rain. But so many of them told me today about how the best year was when it started snowing as they were cutting their tree down. It just makes me happy, seeing them all in the midst of their family traditions, making sure it continues year after year.
I love all things Christmas. The music-both at home and on the radio at the farm, which I most definitely sing and dance to (I only dance if there are no customers-I hum or sing them all the time). Coming up with hopefully perfect gift ideas. Pot luck lunches and dinners going on everywhere. New pajamas worn on Christmas Eve, even though that’s not really anything I do anymore. Christmas trees with ornaments that all have a story, even if the tree is small and just a table topper this year because there’s no room for anything bigger. Sitting in a room that is dark for all but the lights on the tree. Secret Santa exchanges. The cards received in the mail, though I’ve been terrible at sending them in recent years. The possibility of a white Christmas. Candle light Christmas Eve services.
I grew up having a lot of traditions around me, and I think of those often now, especially when I hear certain music (like Manheim Steamroller or Elvis’ Christmas) which immediately puts me in my parents’ living room, surrounded by all the familiar decorations, sounds and smells of Christmas. I’m far from my family now and it’s rare that we get to all be together this time of year, but I’m grateful for the memories of all of the things that were and still are our traditions, even if we don’t always get to carry them out, and I love that some of them are being passed on to my niece and nephew. I’m usually able to replicate a few of those traditions into my life here, and have hopes of many more down the road. But now I also do a bit of creating my own Portland Christmas memories that may or may not turn into actual traditions. Part of this year’s memories will include being involved in so many others’ traditions, and I’m perfectly happy with that.