I’m sitting here on my couch looking at Randy. He’ll be a guest in our home for about a month. Our family already loves having him around. He doesn’t wash dishes, clean windows, cook meals or watch children but he isn’t high maintenance either. Give him some water and he is good to go.

Randy is our Christmas tree. In a process similar to naming hurricanes or winter storms, our kids pick a name for our tree every year. No one can anticipate the name beforehand. We have to set eyes on the conifer and get a sense of his personality before a proper moniker is given. Ooooo! Cool band name alert- “Conifer Moniker”. I call it!

Yesterday after school we made our annual trek to the Christmas tree farm. About a mile before we reached our destination, an eerie feeling came over me. I turned to Laura and said “I hope the place is open”. It hadn’t occurred to either of us that perhaps the farm wouldn’t be fully operational on a weekday.

Sure enough, we arrived and there were no wagons headed to the fields. I was disappointed. We wouldn’t be able to cut down our tree. Thankfully, some workers let us peruse a bunch of trees they had recently harvested.

The yearly “Great Tree Debate” ensued. After spending way too much time looking (and investing a lot of emotional energy passionately defending the trees of our choosing) we decided that Randy would fit our home nicely.

The rest of the process was easy. We gave the tree to an attendant who bailed it. I paid for it and we were on our way home to decorate.

Even though the experience was fun, it seemed like something was missing. What difference is there between cutting a tree down myself and having someone else do it? Or even dare I say, a fake tree…Ugh! Maybe the answer lies in our cultural understanding of life and death.

I rarely think twice about where my food comes from. How did my chicken wings, cheeseburger or even broccoli make their way onto my plate? Something had to die so that I would have life. I am not faced with that reality every day.

Secretly, before I cut down my Christmas tree, I take time to think about how long it has been in the field. I wonder how many snow storms, torrential downpours and heat waves it has lived through. I look around at the other trees that have stood by its side for years. Does that make me crazy? Yeah. Probably.

I always feel a little sad right before my saw hits the bark of the tree. At the same time, I have a higher level of thankfulness and joy for what is standing proudly by my couch.

In a weird twist of irony, maybe taking the time to think about the death around me, would make me appreciate life even more.

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