As we grow older (I’ll be 70 next month), I think it is natural to be aware that with age nature starts to put the brakes on the things we can do. Although we both exercise regularly, try to eat healthy food and maintain a positive outlook on life, we are aware that the consequences of a fall and a broken bone can be more serious than for a younger person. With winter arriving, I walk more cautiously in icy conditions. I still climb ladders, but more carefully and deliberately than in my youth. With cataracts starting to form, I have to pay closer attention when I am driving, especially at night. Many of the little things I once did without thinking about it have become little “tests” to check myself out. I’m looking for assurances that I haven’t lost those abilities.
Our 2011 Christmas Tree
In the years since our children were small, we have in most years sought out a tree farm and cut a fresh tree. In our previous house it’s height was limited by the 8 foot ceiling and the width to our need to be able to move around in the room. Fifteen years ago we moved into a house with a large family room that has a 17+ foot ceiling. Since then, our trees have grown in size, seeming every year to get a little larger. At first they were 10 feet, then 11, until last year our tree was over 14 ft, but it was slender and had about a 7 ft base. Now the tree has turned into a test of our physical capabilities. I thought about reducing the size of our tree this year – last year was a little over the top – but we ended up with a shorter tree, 12 ft, but fatter, 9 ft, and definitely heavier than last year. I didn’t realize how much heavier until after it was cut, so we had to take it.
As we moved the tree from the yard to the garage, the tree was wet and heavy. We manage to put it on a hand truck and roll it into the garage. The next morning it was dry and somewhat lighter, but I was still concerned about getting it into the house and the stand. We had a challenge. I bolted our stand to a board to make it more stable and with straps wrapped around the tree the two of us were able to carry it into the house and set it up in the stand. That was the hardest part. I could decorate the top of the tree, including 800 lights, from an 8 ft step ladder with a grabber tool to extend my arm.
Our 2011 Tree Decorated
This whole process of aging is scary and amusing at the same time. I definitely don’t have the agility I once had and like Bob I’m more cautious with stairs, slippery conditions etc. Unknowingly the Christmas tree has become the test of whether we are aging with agility and joy. Bundling everyone up and tromping through the fields of a tree farm are fun memories of the holidays with our children that I cherish. Until recent years I didn’t worry about the mechanics of it because there was usually a child that could help Bob. The last few years, while we didn’t set out for them to be so, have been some of the funniest, best and great moments of our holidays together. Selecting and decorating last year’s tree was one of those moments of fun that we didn’t anticipate. Last year we just went to cut a tree and found this beautiful tree and with careful measuring decided it would fit in our family room. We pushed it into the hatch of the car and drove home carefully. The height of it made it a little challenge to balance as we placed it in the tree stand. When we finished we laughed and gave each other a big hug. It got rave reactions from all who saw it. Our son-in-law said it is his goal to one day own a house where they can have a tree as big as that one. This year as they cut their tree in Connecticut he sent a picture of a perfect tree for us. As we set out to get our tree this year, we talked on the way about being more reasonable in selecting a tree; meaning it should be smaller than last years’. As we set out in the field we were instantly drawn to several trees. Bob measured to make sure they were shorter than last years. We even measured to be sure they would fit in the space. The men working at the tree farm put it on top of our car this year. (We found out that they remembered out tree from last year and asked for pictures of both trees for their website.) We didn’t realize how heavy it was until we tried to lift it. I was pretty sure I could not but then I am one determined woman and even after our neighbor had offered to help us I suggested to Bob that we try it one more time ourselves. We managed. When we finished we hugged and kissed each other and I said “we may be crazy and a little foolish, but I guess we are not old yet.” It is beautifully decorated and we talked about Christmases past and about people who had given us some of the ornaments. It has been a wonderful time. Once again we are resolved to get a smaller more reasonable tree next year but we will see.
This Year’s Tree
Another time we installed new chandeliers in the foyer, using
scaffolding…. Never mind, that one is too scary for people with a weak heart.
We are probably a little crazy, but the challenges are good for us. We work together, have a good time, and create stories we can remember and share with others. We like to say that it keeps us young at heart.