Heather Vandenhoven

is a freelance writer from northern California, where she lives with her husband and daughter.

Climbing the Tree of Life

One January our family set out to take down Christmas lights from the front yard cedar tree. We had hoped one simple tug would send the rest of the upper lights down. But it was not that easy, so we were left with two choices: either risk looking like the nutty neighbors that leave Christmas lights up until the Fourth of July, or climb that tree and take them down.

My 11-year-old daughter volunteered to climb first. With all the excitement she possessed, she placed one foot in Daddy’s cupped hands, and he lifted her up to the first branch. “Keep your feet close to the base of the tree and use the part of …

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