So there we were – newly married and living in an apartment furnished only by a mattress on the bedroom floor.

We had no money for lights or other decorations – but, hey, it was Christmas Eve! And we were in the middle of the Rocky Mountains (both of us working toward masters degrees at the University of Idaho). “We are surrounded by evergreens – Christmas trees more magnificent than anything you can buy!” we said. “How hard could it be to chop one of them down?”

We checked to make sure it was legal (it was) – and out we went into the snow, armed with a borrowed ax.

We searched. And we searched. And we searched.

“There’s one!”

We made a beeline for it… only to find, as we approached, that it was at least 20 feet tall.

“There’s a little one over there!”

Again, as we approached, it was enormous.

Finally, we found a “sapling” – barely nine feet.

We hacked it down (and I do mean hacked), tied it to the roof of our VW bug, and triumphantly drove it home.

Once installed in our formerly empty living room, it took on a life of its own. We trimmed it with the strings of popcorn and paper chains and “snowflakes” that we’d learned to make in kindergarten.

It filled the room – literally. And it filled the entire apartment with the fragrance and spirit of Christmas.

January came and went. February came and went. The tree still looked and smelled as fresh as it had the day we dragged it in. (That’s what you get for chopping down your own tree.)

Then it was almost Easter. It made no sense to keep the tree any longer – so, reluctantly, we dragged it to the curb and let it go. And the apartment looked even more empty than it had before.

But I still had – and have – my memories of that tree… and lots of pictures.

[Ed. Note: What’s your favorite holiday memory? Let us know right here.]

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