I love our annual tradition of going up to Michigan to cut down our Christmas tree. We started doing this when Tom and I first started dating (an idea that we "borrowed" from his oldest brother). Over the years they had brought their three children up to this tree farm with other families to cut down their trees and enjoy each other's company as well as some beverages and treats.
So back in 2001, we decided to start our own tree cutting tradition and we've gone every year since. Over the years, we've accumulated our own group of friends who enjoy this annual tradition. We start with lunch in nearby New Buffalo (this year was a record year with 18 people) and then head over to the tree farm. We start by visiting Santa in his shed (my kids think that this is the real Santa and the ones at the mall are just his helpers) and the kids telling him what they want for Christmas. We then decide on what type of tree we are getting - Douglas Fir, Frasier Fir, etc. and board a wagon being pulled by a tractor or horses to bring us out into the farm. Once there we begin our search for the perfect tree. This year took a bit longer but I enjoy seeing my kids and Adler weave through the trees and then once we call for all to check out a particular tree they all come running back to find us/it.
Once cut down (you do this yourself), we board the wagon back and unload our trees, tie them to the car and begin to help ourselves to festive warm drinks, cookies and other treats while we "tailgate" and catch up with each other.
This year was a warm year which allowed us to tailgate for a bit longer, especially with all of the kids. Austen asked Santa for Legos and the NFL Rush Zone game (because Peyton had already asked for the Paw Patrol building) and Peyton asked for Rapunzel and her horse Maximus too. A couple of funny moments occurred with Santa as the kids caught him checking his iPhone during a break and I loudly proclaimed he needed to check the weather at the North Pole. Also, we were there til dark so Santa was done, took off his suit and walked to his F150 pickup truck parked near where we were tailgating. We all tried to distract the kids so they wouldn't see him get into his car and we were successful but they did see him change out of his red suit into regular street clothes. My friend calmly told them that they got his suit so muddy (from their booths) that he had to change! Not sure if the older ones bought it though.
If I think about it, I really probably only have a few more years until Austen doesn't believe any longer. After all, I was 9 when I found out. Maybe I can get my dad to tell him the same story he told me then. I don't recall his exact words because I was 9, but I recall it being a beautiful articulation about the spirit of St. Nicholas and it made finding out not so childhood shattering.