Once upon a time there was a papa bear, a mama bear and two baby bears-one still wrapped up tight. They were such a cute little bear family too. And on that beautiful Sunday after the day of Giving Thanks they loaded up the sleigh and made their way up into the hills just like they always did.
Mama bear knew what she was after. Papa bear may have had a different idea.
Waiting at the base of the snow covered hills was another adorable bear family. Their sleigh, not being as trail-ready, stayed there and they piled into papa's sleigh. Everyone was so excited. They had done this before after all, every year. Why would this time be any different?
Papa bear drove way into the hills while mama bear (x2), eyes straight ahead, tried hard not to look at the steep cliff on the right and think "what if?" Finally papa stopped the sleigh and looked at mama. The mama bears looked around, nodded okay and began the tedious job of bundling up the young.
And off they went. The hunt.
It goes something like this...
"How about this one?"
"Much too tall."
"But it only has branches on one side..." (it is, after all, 5000 feet above sea level)
"Well, we will put it in the corner then," papa bear sniffs, "...or keep looking."
Twenty paces away, the other papa bear...
"How about this one?"
"Is that a nest?!?!"
"Dear, it's 25 feet tall."
The baby bears trudged along quietly...for a while. The grumbles started quiet at first, little pink cheeks and runny noses, eyes beckoning to mama.
Knowing there were only moments until meltdown, the mama bears decided it was time to improvise. They gathered snacks and the plastic sled from the sleigh. Mama bear looked over her shoulder just as the papa bears crested a far away snowy hill, axes in hand, lingering laughter in the air. The mamas wearily glanced at each other then returned to the needs at hand.
But all mama bears know that sledding and goldfish crackers only last so long. Time went by...
The mama bears looked worriedly toward the hills. Their conversation...
"They're young...and strong...and smart (usually)."
"And they were soldier bears not that long ago...soldier bears know how to survive in the snow, right?"
But they were also young and strong and definitely smart and they talked about following the tracks. But then a small cry from the sleigh brought them back to reality.
Hours ticked by as they huddled together in that sleigh. Some say just an hour. Some, more well informed, say four. It may still be a source of contention.
When finally, the two appeared from the way they had gone. Mama bear tried not to cross her arms or tap her toes...but it was hard.
"Are you alright?"
"Where have you been?"
A slight wave. "We saw a beaver!"
"What about a Christmas tree?"
"What? Oh yeah, there's one..." he spins and spins, "that way...no..."
"We need to go," both mamas say in unison.
The sleigh slid carefully back down the hill. The little bear families were happy again, albeit, treeless.
As mama bear stepped out of the sleigh to get into her own, she turned to mama with a whisper, "never again." A slight nod.
The tradition does continue for those cute bear families. Every Sunday after the day of Giving Thanks. The two sleighs meet at the determined location, hot coffee in hand. The baby bears are bigger and there is more of them. Two of them wander off and talk of boy bears and music and books. One strapping young bear helps papa with the ax while two little ones run through mud puddles. Those two don't remember like the others...
Secretly the mamas smile as they look around. The tree farm has 1000's of trees to choose from, most with branches on all sides, most less than 25 feet tall and without nests. No beavers in sight. But there is hot chocolate and candy canes and a pink outhouse just in case.
And all contained within a fence.
Papa bear disappears into the trees, ax over his shoulder, strapping bear at his heels. Mama breathes a sigh of relief and sips her coffee...
He believes the tree farm keeps the baby bears contained. Mama knows better.
Plus, they always leave with a Christmas tree. Except for one year...but that is an entirely different true story.