Nearly 10 years ago my parents began a tradition that, at the time, didn't seem to be much more than what it appeared to be on the surface. But over time it has become one of those special things we love and cherish. Without it, our Christmas season isn't quite the same.
Ours is a Black Friday tradition, but not like you might imagine. We do come home exhausted from our hunt, but not a hunt for gifts... but for Christmas trees!
Ya, it's not wild crazy tradition. In fact, lots of families do it. For the most part it would be an ordinary go-get-your-tree adventure. We gear up in our snow clothes (which get shed halfway up the mountain because we are so stinking hot from the hike) and search for that perfect tree. In our circumstance, we look for 7 Christmas trees, or close to that number. One for us, one for mom and dad, one for this brother and that brother... one for The Rancher's Sidekick's room even. In fact these trees end up all over the country, shipped in mineral feed sacks making the trip quite nice.
So you get the idea... we get Christmas trees, one for everybody and their cowdog.
What makes this so special is who we get our trees from.
We find our trees from Norma... Sweet Norma. At first we started to go to her mountain ranch because she has such beautiful trees, but now we go to be with her. Sweet Norma is one of those women that just eeks love.
Our adventure with Sweet Norma is predictable and generally goes something like this. We get out of the truck ready to be on the receiving end of the tightest, most loving hug, followed a good look up and down to see how we are. After the hugs go around we load back into the trucks and she directs us to the best spot to find that special tree. Once there she starts the trek up the mountainside, leading the way but slowly makes her way to the back to ensure that everyone is doing fine and visiting all along the way.
Oh, by the way, did I mention that she is in her mid-eighties?
Can you believe that this woman, that has every right to just point to the mountain and say, "Have at it," walks us around as we indecisively choose our trees, never thinking of herself. Instead of being frustrated with us taking up her day or wasting her energies to show us around her ranch, she is tickled to spend even the smallest minute with us.
So we choose our trees, snap a picture or two for momma's sake, and we make our way back to the ranch yard. Now that you are beginning to understand Sweet Norma you might guess that she won't just let us drop her off and leave. Your right. She won't let us leave without first coming in for a hot cup of hot cocoa. We'll sip our drinks and visit for a bit until we need to hit the road. Sweet Norma walks us out and giving us all a tight, parting hug and kiss.
As far as the eye can see we leave with just a load of Christmas trees, but we leave with so much more than that. Sweet Norma fills our souls with humble, unbiased country love.
There's a lot we can learn from a woman like her. This is the beginning of Norma's Story.