1. Spend weeks asking, fretting and clarifying about when we would get said tree.  Wring hands in worry and consternation that the first Sunday of Advent did not fall immediately after Thanksgiving.  Loudly voice your displeasure at the timing AND lack of snow because clearly the parents have control over both the liturgical calendar and the weather.  

2. Settle on a date.

3. Double (and triple and quadruple for safety) check the date.

4. Attend Mass for the first Sunday of Advent and forego any chit-chat after because there is a tree to get, people!

5. Watch people make lunch while wondering aloud if we will have time to get a tree.

6. Change clothes a few times amid your frustration that a princess dress/ ballet leotard/shorts are not deemed suitable tree hunting attire.

7. Pack the saws recalling the year Max broke a blade.  Pack a hatchet, too, just to be safe.

8. Load the baby into the car without shoes.

9. Find the baby’s shoes.

10. Get the dog into the car.

11. Sit in the way, way back with said dog and worry aloud about getting car sick.

12. Ask for the 11th time to listen to the Advent playlist.

13. Finally get rolling.

14. Drive to the hardware store for a tree permit.  Groan and protest when Dad makes the same joke he does every year that we’ve gotten to the place and we need to pick a tree from the parking lot tree lot.

15. Don’t appreciate how good you’ve got it to head into the woods and get a tree.

16. Hit the road. FINALLY.

17. Half way to the destination hear the parents realize that dad has a mass for a retreat to play for.  Listen to them discuss whether to press on or not.  Watch Dad set his jaw and go a little faster.

18.  Look for the right turnoff that always seems further out than remembered.

19. Arrive at destination and hear that there is 30 minutes to hike, find a tree, cut the tree down, haul it back to the car, and strap it on.

20. Accept mission.

21. Realize Lucy forgot a coat.

22. Find a tiny tree to decorate for the animals. (Forgotten step: Cut oranges to dry for animals.  Forget them in the oven overnight and head to mass with the lingering sent of burnt citrus on your clothes. Improvise with carrot ornaments instead.)

23. Hike into a gulley and then up a steep hill to find a tree. 

24. Reject at least 5 real possibilities.  We can’t rush things TOO much.

25. Seriously doubt Dad’s choice in trees but wander away in search of Lord-knows-what instead of looking at trees.

26. Watch little sisters attempt to use a saw on Dad’s choice.

27. Ask to go to the bathroom and then get upset when there is none and Mom offers to help you find a tree but this one to use as a port-a-potty.

28. Watch the biggest brother carry the tree by himself. 

29.Get told 7 times to GET IN THE CAR!

30. Laugh at Mom for not remembering how to tie real knots.

31. Finally get back on the road.

32. Fly back through the mountains, praying Dad makes it to Mass.

33. Drop Dad off at retreat.

34. Hurry home with the tree before it is dark because the car has no tail lights and Mom does not want a ticket.

35. Get home.  Let Mom and the oldest brother unload car and tree.  Watch Mom carry the tree inside.  Question if tree will fit.  Be surprised by Dad’s good choice and the brother’s impeccable measuring and trimming skills.

36. Change back into princess dress/ballet leotard/shorts and get on with life, forgetting all about the tree.