What a wonderful day we had yesterday , driving for about 90 minutes from high desert to high mountain terrain! I do love Albuquerque, and am so thankful to be able to experience it from time to time. It helps that one of my daughters and her family live here, but I am thankful nonetheless.
The tradition here is to pay $10.00 for a permit , drive to the Jemez Mountains and cut your own Christmas tree. God, in His Sovereign disposition of all things, gave us an absolutely perfect day! It was about 48* when we left the house, with packed snacks, boots, snow gear, sleds, rope, saw, and high spirits. We actually circled back for the sleds, when we forgot them the first time out at 9:45 am. Fortunately, we were only 2 exits up I25 N so it was an easy retreat! ( In the Crockpot at home was a delicious beef stew in the making ) so finally we were on our way. Blue skies, scattered clouds, bright sunshine, no wind and happy hearts heading to get The Tree!
The terrain started changing about 30 minutes from home.
For this Easterner it was an exciting observation, seeing the flat change into scrub brush and arroyos. Canyons, like on the Westerns I watched as a kid, were reality.’
Soon we came to the Jemez Welcome Center where we bought the permit and resisted the souvenirs. They had an example of an outdoor ‘orno’ which is how the Indians bake things, always outside the houses. I wish they had bread baking and I certainly would have weakened!
Off we went, getting excited to see if there would be any snow for those sleds we went back for, and where our tree would be. The rules say no tree cutting near the roads, you must go back about 30 ft at least, but we were ready for the trek! The boys were as calm as a bag full of healthy snacks could keep them, and I was snapping a kazillion photos!
Finally there was a turn off spot to the right, a snow covered road that had an unknown ending, so we parked the Suburu, 4 wheel drive included. Tug and Ammy were quite fine with that decision!
Out came the snow pants, mittens, hats, sleds, boots, saw and water. Always water at 6000 ft altitude, or you will wish you had it and start eating snow. Oh, did I mention how the snow just appeared as we drove up the mountain road?! So much snow- quite an amazing sight!
It soon became clear that to find a tree, a hike into the woods had to occur. Up the steep hill went Robin, then after a quick snow angel was made, Tug joined the upward climb. I hesitated…should I go and risk missing the fun , or should I risk killing myself on the slippery slopes? The no risk rule won, and I stayed behind and sat, listening to the quiet, watching for birds. I took more photos of various aspens clumps and waited for the tree gatherers to return.
Did I mention how much I loved this place!?!
So much beauty in creation! So many reasons to sing praises to God! How easy to forget there is a Creator in the Universe around us and simply take it for granted, forgetting to actually say Thank You God for this stunningly beautiful visual! My eyesight, the sense of smelling the fresh snow and pine scents around me, the ability to walk, to have a camera to record the moment, securing it into my fragile, unreliable memory! All this and more were things I thanked Him for as I sat waiting for the tree. I had been warned that perhaps we would need to stop and hike multiple times.
Soon I heard a sound much different from the quiet whispering pines and crinkling aspens. Yes, there it was , a loud giggling through the trees! I was fairly certain it was a victorious giggle and not a mountain lion from the rear.(my secret fear, secret no more).
Here they came, the trekkers, running and falling and pulling a tree through the woods!
The happiest sound, however, was the little voice that shouted, “Ammy, Ammy, we got you a tree for your casita!!”. And through the woods came Tug, holding up the tree he had found me, so that I too, could have a special Christmas tree this Christmas! Ah, yes, thank you God, for these little moments in time that remind me what is important in life, and how deeply You care for me through these children’s love.
The car was loaded, the little people occasionally rolling down their windows to tell dad “It’s still there!” ended our day’s adventure. The evening ahead was full of decorating and listening to the crackling fire , begun with the Yule Log (a stump cut from last year’s Christmas tree), and Christmas music in the background. Then the beef stew. Ah yes, it was a wonderful day!!
There is a final thought that continues to niggle itself into the recesses of my mind, and I think I will share it.
Tradition is all well and good, and I was queen of making fun traditions as I raised 7 children for many, many years. Little moments and events that made life fun! Sometimes we can get ourselves all caught up in feelings of missing such traditions when the children grow old and go out on their own rather than embracing the new ideas and fun things life has in store. Just as God reminds us that His mercies are new every morning, I was able to celebrate a new tradition this year with this part of my family. Nothing is exactly the same, but in each new tradition I am able to clearly feel love and fun and the excitement of a growing family. What if I had held onto the old ways and felt sadness instead?
Thanks be to God for His unspeakable gift, and for His many gifts to me this year of 2019.