Last Friday my family entered into our long-standing tradition of cutting down our Christmas tree at the summit in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Our tradition is that we go to Albright’s donuts in Santa Cruz, we pick up a dozen donuts, then we head out to find the perfect Christmas tree. We do all of this rain or shine. This year we did it in the rain! We trudged our way through the trees, as each tree shared all of the water they had on their limbs on our clothing, and we searched for the perfect tree. Of course we found the perfect tree – because we always tell ourselves that’s exactly we found each year. Of course I had to whine as I stooped in the mud, cut the tree, carried the tree, tied the tree to the car, and got the tree in the house – you’re not a real man unless you whine while you work. These are the things that make up being a family with traditions during the holidays.
Then as I went outside to dump some extra trimmings I saw my neighbor’s garage door open. He lost his wife to lung cancer one month ago and all of their family traditions were obliterated. I looked at his quiet house without any extra cars around and I thought of his pain. The holidays have a funny way of magnifying the human experience. They magnify our joy and they magnify our pain. So as I’m now in the thick of the holiday season I’m gonna try to be mindful of those enduring pain.