A few readers have shared with me their experiences with home-grown Christmas trees. Reading one of these messages this morning had me reflecting back on our first home-grown tree.

before the pond

Our camper was parked in this wooded spot to the right where the pond now resides.

It was December 2004 and our first holiday in Maine. A 27′ camper trailer was our home while we worked on building the house. A camper with two adults, a five-year-old and one rambunctious dog. Clearly there was no room for a Christmas tree – there was barely room for us and our belongings.

In an effort to make things in a chaotic world festive for Hannah, we harvested our first Christmas tree from the property. It was a spindly, sparse tree, but we parked it outside the camper window and strung it with lights. Whenever a good gust of wind came along, the tree toppled. I think we finally staked it down with some rope and tent pegs. It was a truly sad tree.

The garage was our first building goal as it would give us a safe place to store our tools and belongings. It was the 23rd of December when the garage was finally enclosed. Thoughts of spending Christmas in our sad little trailer with a Charlie Brown tree was downright depressing. When Hannah arrived home from kindergarten that day, we topped off the propane tanks, buttoned up the trailer, and hightailed it to my folks house in Pennsylvania.

Hannah at age 5

Hannah at age 5.

We spent two days being pampered by mom and dad before heading back to Maine on the 26th. The return trip was uneventful until we reached Maine. Snow was coming down so hard that we had to grab a hotel room and wait out the storm. The next day, we arrived home just before noon to find 24+ inches of snow on the ground and our road yet to be plowed. Hannah and I sat in the car on the side of the road, engine running to keep warm while Paul hiked the quarter-mile up our road to reach the property. It took the better part of an hour before he returned with the truck, blazing a path through the snow with the plow so we could get home.

Our trailer was a sad thing to behold. The door handle was frozen shut. The propane had run out while we were gone and things inside froze – water pipes, septic system, everything in the fridge, and my lone house plant. There was frost inside the camper. Of course, once we got the heat back online, that frost melted and it rained inside the camper.

As I reflect back on that crazy holiday and our first Charlie Brown tree, I am ever so grateful to be sitting here, toasty warm with my family looking forward to our 10th Christmas in Maine.

Building the Maine House

Building the Maine House