Turning The Saw Over To My Son

I was ready for the hunt.

The annual hunt that has happened each December for as far back as my memory can take me. The annual hunt for the perfect Christmas tree. The annual jaunt through a field filled with assorted evergreens. Snowflakes dancing on the wind. A bonfire to keep us warm. A sharp saw glinting in the cold sunlight.

And then the phone call came. Disaster.

"Sam doesn't want to go," my wife said of my 11-year-old son. The room started to spin. Did I hear her correctly? Was the Christmas music blaring too loud on the radio? Was my Santa's hat pulled too far over my ears?

"Too bad, he's going." I had turned from Mr. Holly Jolly Christmas into Scrooge in the blink of a phone call. I had to think fast. We could sing Christmas carols as we drove there. No, probably not. I could promise him a visit to Santa's lap. No, getting too old and cool for that. There was always cold, hard cash.

And then it hit me. It was time for a rite of passage. It was time — gulp — to hand over the saw.

"Here," I said handing him the saw and skipping any pomp and circumstance.

"Really?" he said as his face brightened and the joy of Christmas and the thrill of the hunt returned to his eyes.

"Umm, are you sure?" my wife cautioned.

"I want to," my 8-year-old daughter Molly chimed in.

"It's time," I said with a smile as I thought back to the time when I became the keeper of the saw.

There are few things more awkward than laying on the cold or muddy ground and cutting down a tree basically where the trunk meets the earth. I saw my face in Sam's as he struggled to cut down the decade-old tree. The saw began to pinch. He almost gave up. I gently helped him by pushing the tree preserving the notion that he was doing it by himself.

A couple of minutes later and with the cry of "Timber!" the concolor fir came to the ground with a light swish and we were lugging the tree through the field that would probably be crooked and put another green mark on our ceiling. But it was perfect.

The years pass by quickly as the hunts went from carrying the kids on my shoulders to holding their mittened hands and now passing the saw to my son. I know the annual search for the perfect tree will eventually come to an end, but as I watch my family stand around the bonfire sipping hot chocolate with smiles on their faces and laughing, I find myself counting down the days until next Christmas tree hunt.

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