Tonight we got our Christmas tree. Some of you may may think we'd left it a bit late, but since I'm a December baby, my parents got into the habit of waiting until after my birthday to put up any Christmas decorations. One of my mother's sisters was also a December baby who often complain about how her birthday got overshadowed by Christmas, so my parents go out of their way to make sure that did not happen with me. Especially not this year when I turned sixteen.
But that had been over a week ago and I was more than ready for Christmas now. In fact, I'm thinking of telling my parents next year that we should get our tree the day after Thanksgiving. We could just decorate it for my birthday and then redo it again for Christmas.
You see I love the smell of pine trees and forests. Especially in wintertime and at night. Which is why going out to get our tree was so much fun this time. As soon as dinner was over, Dad told us to get our coats and pile into the Suburban. "It's tree time!" he smiled.
"More like about time," Mom muttered under her breath, while getting her coat on in record time.
Soon we were driving down a snowy lane with snow covered trees on either side of us. There was no one else on the road, so it felt kind of spooky in some ways. I swear, there's nothing like being surrounded by huge trees at night to make you feel really small. Yet it was beautiful at the same time.
After a while Mom said, "Where are we going? There aren't any tree lots out this way."
"We're getting our tree the old fashion way, straight out of the best supplier known to man. The forest itself," Dad smiled.
"We're going to chop one down?" I cried in dismay.
"No, Sweetie, we're going to dig one up," Dad corrected me. "Remember, cut trees don't last very long around Uncle Nate."
Immediately, my mood skyrocketed even higher. "He's coming this year?"
"Dear, you weren't supposed to say anything," Mom scolded.
"She was going to find out anyway," he told her, "See, that's him up ahead waiting for us."
I practically climbed into the front seat with them to get a better look. Sure enough, in a clearing up ahead stood Nathan wearing a an old fashion burgundy frock coat, with a black cape over it. While on top of his blonde head, he had a black beaver hat angled every so slightly to give him a dashing look.
By now my little brother Geoffrey, who had been sleeping the whole time woke up and started yelling, "Unca Nate... Unca Nate..." at the top of his little lungs. If you haven't guessed, he adores our godfather.
Luckily we were able to park quickly and got him out of the car. Since I was right next to him, I had the 'fun' of getting him out of his car-seat. Let me tell you, trying to deal with an overexcited two-year old who won't stop squirming is an experience I won't soon forget. Nor will my stomach where he kept kicking me without realizing it, because he wanted to get to Nathan so badly.
Thank goodness Nathan saw my plight and took Geoffrey from me. Immediately, my baby brother calmed down and started babbling at him in a mix of words and childish gibberish. Mom and Dad looked on with amusement while Nathan hung on my brother's every 'word' until he was finished.
"Well you certainly have had an interesting day," Nathan told him, "I look forward to having more of these talks with you over the coming days. But for now, we need to find a good tree and we have lots to choose from."
Looking around I saw he was right. We did have a lot of choices, but there was one slight problem. "Kind of big aren't they?" my Mom remarked, taking Geoffrey from him.
Nathan turned to my dad the two began muttering to one another. I managed to catch a few snippets like: "I thought you said she'd be okay with punching a holes into the ceiling and possibly the roof..." and "....we'd have had to cut through some of the crossbeams and..."
I noticed Mom rolling her eyes several times before they finally finished.
Clapping his gloved hands Dad said, "Nathan says there's some really nice trees over on the north slope just a few hundred yards from here. I just need to get the sled and pot out from the back of the car."
"Did you remember the shovels?" Mom asked, and he froze.
Immediately my father froze and winced. "Oops."
"Dad!" I cried but Nathan intervened saying, "Don't worry, I've got it covered. Just follow me." and with that he started heading off towards the north slope.
Naturally I raced to join him. Soon the whole family was following close behind as we slowly made our way through the snowy woods.
At one point we spotted some deer nearby, who did not seem to mind our presence at all. They stared at us for a while, until they were sure we didn't have anything to offer them and then moved on. Soon we emerged from the forest and into what was undoubtedly the north slope.
All around us stood pines ranging from four feet to heaven knows, all covered in snow. It was a beautiful sight. I almost felt guilty for our intruding on such a festive scene. But, we were here on a mission and I knew weren't going to leave until we located and secured our quarry.
After a few minutes, of knocking snow off a few of the six foot trees, my parents found one they liked. I had to agree, that their choice was a good one. It had a lovely shape and would fit nicely in the living room. But first we had to get it out of the ground.
Turning to Nathan I said, "So how do you plan to get this puppy out of the ground without shovels?"
Smiling he said, "Funny you should mention the word 'puppy'." With that he took a few steps away from me and knelt down in the snow, covering himself entirely with the black cloak. For several seconds nothing happened. Then there was movement under the ebony cloth and soon two large black dogs emerged from underneath the cape which fell to the ground and became flat.
"PUPPIES!" my little brother cried excitedly. He loves dogs, but can't play with them because he's very allergic to their fur. A part of me quickly surmised that this would not be a problem with these two beasts. As if to prove my point, they went over to where my mother was holding Geoffrey, and allowed him to pet them.
Then the pair trotted over to where the tree we'd chosen stood and began digging in a circle. Snow went flying in all directions, making the rest of us take a few steps back to keep out of range. But soon, the dark soil began to replace the white stuff letting us know the real work had begun. Out of curiosity I bent down and picked up a piece of the thrown soil and found it was still quite solid and frozen.
I shook my head in wonder and marveled at the power of my godfather once more. I've long known of his shape-shifting talents, but sometimes forget just how much strength he is capable of demonstrating.
Within minutes the tree wobbled and tilted to one side. A moment later the two dogs emerged from behind it and slipped back under the black coat from which they'd emerged. As my father brought the sled with the big pot on it over to where the tree lay, I watched the shapes moving beneath the cape and breathed a sigh of relief when I saw hands appear and Nathan stood up. As he adjusted his hat, I noted that there was not a speck of dirt anywhere on his hands or face. He truly is a wonder to behold sometimes.
Anyway, he and Dad managed to lift the tree with its large ball of dirt and roots, into the big pot... or rather tub on the sleigh and quickly made sure it was a good fit. Then we headed back to the cars and stood it upright in the back of the pickup, Nathan had brought. In a few weeks, we'll bring it back and replant it, just as Nathan has shown us so it can continue its life among its siblings.
Now we're all back in our home, the tree is completely decorated and Dad has just lit the log in the fireplace. Nathan is resting on the sofa with a blanket over his legs... or rather where his legs would be. On the floor nearby, Geoffrey is playing with a couple of smaller versions of the black dogs who dug our Christmas tree out of the ground.
Poor Nathan, he's going to be legless for a good hour or more, meaning he'll be stuck on the sofa. I'm going to join him after I finish this post. He's going to be staying with us all throughout the holidays this year. Normally he heads to Connecticut to visit another part of his 'extended' family to spend Christmas Eve, but they are celebrating elsewhere this year which means he's all ours... or rather mine this time.
Glancing over at the archway that leads to the kitchen I can see my mom and dad enjoying a good long kiss under the mistletoe. I love seeing them like that. It really makes the season all the more right to me.
Love, family and friends, those are the greatest gifts to have at this time of year. And I'm going to go get a little of the first, right now. I've got a little bit of mistletoe in my pocket and there's a very inviting spot right next to Nathan on the sofa.
This is going to be very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year indeed....
****So ends this year's holiday installment of The Vampyre Blogs - Private Edition. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did writing it. May all your hopes and wishes come true during this festive season. And may each and everyone one of you enjoy some of the magic of this season.
MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE