When my sister and her family moved to this Christmas tree farm 20-some years ago, we were surprised on Thankgiving day to have a few people show up in the afternoon to cut a tree. At the time, it wasn't a particularly pleasant surprise, but not really a big deal. It isn't like we had to do much - Bob just hands them a saw or a ribbon to mark their choice.
Over the years, this has become a source of amusement. It has also become the official start to the season for us, and we've come to realize that it is a very special part of some families' holiday tradition.
I've been thinking a lot about it over the last couple of days because the Black Friday situation is so distasteful to me. I'm trying to figure out just how much of a hypocrite I am, I suppose.
To me, there is a big difference. The families come out after their dinners to walk off their full bellies on the beautiful hillside while they choose that perfect tree. It is a joyous occasion, and we get to be a part of it. Over time, we've watched the new generations arrive, and we've mourned along with some of them as they've lost loved ones that we've come to know. We don't have to leave our family, change our clothes, punch a clock, or engage in contentious discussions about prices and terms of sale.
The fact that everyone is happy and having fun is the critical difference to me. A little money changes hands sometimes. Sometimes they are only here to choose the tree and will come back in a couple of weeks to cut it and take it home. That they choose to spend part of their special day here, walking on these hills, kids running ahead and laughing, moms taking pictures, dads carrying the littlest ones... well, that's a blessing to us, and an honor to be where they want to be on this rare day of togetherness. Another difference is that we are home and this IS our life.
In the end, I'm okay with this situation. We don't go out of our way to encourage people to come today, nor do we tell them to go away. It just is. Some people watch football after they eat. We just do something a little different, and we love it.