A visit to the Christmas tree farm.

Mrs. Gandy told Patrick this would be the last year of the Gandy Tree Farm. Five years ago, she and the mister decided that they would retire from the holiday tree growing business.

So we picked a tree from the last fir crop to ever grow on our favorite tree farm with extra care and a little reservation. Many trees were already tagged with a yellow ribbon, waiting to be picked up by their new owners.

The kids wandered and scampered through the rows of perfectly-shaped trees- “This one is perfect!” was the refrain. Meanwhile, Mr. Gandy watched and waited for us to settle on a friend to take home.

I think we disappointed him because we lingered so long that he drove away on his tractor. Max and Micah felt it was critical to see “all” the trees before we made a final choice.

And so we marveled over the Carolina firs- the loops and ribbons of green, the whorls and circles, the secret hiding places for little birds and creatures.

After the tree had been cut, Max tailed the Gandy-men to a section of the farm where the tree would be “prepped” for our 30-minute drive home. I felt sure nothing could go askance with our avid Max hot on the tree trail.

Our tree was placed in a small shaking machine which shook all the loose branches and firs from it. It looked like a loofah sponge for trees- or rather, it had the same rejuvenating effect. Then we moved on to the next station where the tree was placed in a bag.

Milla watched as if hypnotized, turning only once to whisper “tree….”. As usual, I found myself trying to imagine her thoughts as she beheld more human practices and conventions.

Finally, our handsome tree was lined up along a painted ruler plank and measured. It stands at 7.5 feet- for forty-one dollars, the price seems too small or perhaps we feel too fortunate.

As the gentleman loaded the tree atop our space ship, the kids and I played in the grass. Micah tried a few cartwheels, and I took the opportunity to impress the munchkins with a few cartwheels of my own. Is it bad that it still makes me happy to hear, “Wow Mom, you really CAN do cartwheels….”?

Milla “flew” on my feet against the backdrop of a beautiful blue wind-tossed sky. She didn’t feel the Micahish need to “go higher, faster”. Instead, she played eagle and just savored the soaring.

Life doesn’t offer us moments like this whenever we press “play”. Instead, we must learn to collect them with a sense of awe and appreciation when we happen upon them. Moments like wildflowers grown haphazard and between the cracks- never in the spaces we have planned for our “garden”.

If a big blue sky is your background, what will you do with it? Assume that it doesn’t stop for your schedule. Assume that the elephant circus in the clouds passes by in the moment you stop to play on your iPhone. Assume that reverence is the proper position for life and love- and every single animal in the clouds is worth seeing, every tiny star is worth counting, every wildflower is an opportunity to learn something new from a creature abiding by different rules than you.