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December 9th, 2009:

Six Inches

Last Saturday we took our annual trek up into the Pike National Forest to seek out and cut down the perfect Christmas Tree. We do this every year and have a BLAST! We go to the Forest Service office and buy a permit for $10. For my $10, I get a map of the tree cutting area and a 10 inch long piece of paper marked by the inch up to 6 inches. Your tree trunk can’t be bigger than this because the goal of letting you cut down trees in the forest is to get rid of the smaller ones and make the forest healthier.

Anyhoo – we were excited because they opened up a new tree cutting area this year – woo hoo! We had a beautiful day to head up to the forest . . . we loaded up the supplies, the kids, and the dog and were off.

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We got even more excited as we drove up the pass because we saw people driving down with absolutely beautiful Christmas trees tied to the tops of their vehicles. Into the tree cutting area and we were off on our tree hunt! Dude said he had the perfect tree in mind and “would know when he saw it” :-) We found a few right away, but they were too big when we measured them. So we were off, up the hill and over the ridge to see what was on the other side. Apparently, it was the PERFECT Christmas tree! We measured the tree trunk and it was barely under 6″ – whew! We took the requisite photos and cut down our perfect tree.

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Then Dude carried it to the Jeep. Down the mountain. By himself. He’s 9.

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We tied our prize tree to the top of the Jeep and started to head out of the tree cutting area. On our way out, we saw some other trees on top of vehicles and in pickup truck beds and said “WTH! There is NO WAY that tree is only 6 inches!” We followed one truck out and were ready to see them get fined for cutting down too big of a tree, but the Ranger just waved at them! WAVED AT THEM, without so much as a measure of their tree trunk.

We decided to stop and talk to the Ranger about our tree. Here’s how it went . . .

Hubby: Good afternoon.
Ranger: Good afternoon.
Hubby: We’ve been seeing lots of people with large trees on their vehicles and were wondering what’s up. Our tree trunk is just under 6″, and we’re wondering if we’re measuring at the wrong area on the trunk.
Ranger: Looks at tree tied to our roof and chuckles Um, the 6 inches refers to the DIAMETER of the trunk, not the circumferance. So this tree here (slaps a tree about the size of the one in Rockefeller Plaza) is about an 8 inch tree.
Hubby: Oh. Thanks.
Ranger: Um, would you like to go back and get a bigger one?
Hubby: No, thanks. This one will be good for us.

We laughed our asses off at ourselves all the way down the pass, because apparently we’ve been measuring our trees wrong for FIVE YEARS! Seriously – we’ve been doing this for the past 5 years and have always measured our trees the same. We’ve never really noticed anyone else having a much bigger tree than ours, and we’ve always found fun trees – like the year our tree was wider than it was tall, or the year we duct taped two half trees together to make one. We figured that was just because everyone had small trees because of the cutting area. But now that there is a new cutting area, well, the trees aren’t picked over and are huge.

So we ended up with the perfect little Christmas tree. It’s a whoppin’ 5′ 10″ tall and fits perfectly in our living room. Seriously – doesn’t it look perfect? Pay no attention to the bending of the skinny little branches from our ornaments.

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Even though I love my little tree, I guarantee you that next year, we will be bringing home the biggest tree we possibly can, whether or not it fits in our house.