Party Members: A family of four, ranging in age from 3 to 46.

Destination: Meissner Sno-Park, 14 miles west of Bend.

Weather: Rain falling on snow

Transportation: Snowshoes (never before worn by youngest family members).

Time it takes to actually get out into snowshoes and out of the parking lot: 30 minutes.

Plan of Action: Wander around aimlessly carrying sharp objects until a tree of adequate imperfectness reveals itself.

Number of circles in the woods walked: 5.

Number of times 3-year-old trips on snowshoes and must be retrieved from full face-plant in the snow: 11.

Number of times 5-year old climbs a snow mound and leaps off, screaming like a maniac and crashing into the soggy snow, arms akimbo: 7.

Percent of totally drenched everyone is within 10 minutes: 99%.

Number of times Dad says, “This one’s not quite right. I think we should keep looking”: 6.

Number of times Mom wishes she were back in the truck with her book: 4.

Natural beauty of surrounding mixed-conifer woods covered in winter’s first snow, on a scale of one to 10: 9.

Beauty of fir tree fallen, on a scale of one to 10: 2.

Number of family members who care that we’ve chosen the ugliest tree in the woods: 0.

Smiles on kid’s faces: huge.

Number of ornaments immediately broken upon commencement of decorating: 4.

Number of times tree falls completely over before Dad figures out the stand: 3.

Number of times someone laughs so hard they start snorting: 3.

Amount of fun had by kids, on a scale of one to 10: 9.

Amount of fun had by adults on a scale of one to 10: 5.

Amount of fun remembered later on a scale of one to 10: 10.

Chance we’ll do it all again next year: 100%.

Value of the Oregon Christmas tree cutting tradition: Much more priceless than gold, frankincense, myrrh and a tray full of hot toddys.

Christmas trees may be cut on most U.S. Forest Service land in Oregon, with restrictions and with a permit. Buy a permit for $5 at any U.S.F.S. office or various retail outlets.

about author Kim Cooper Findling

Kim Cooper Findling grew up on the Oregon Coast and became a Central Oregon girl in the mid-90s, taking in the sunny skies and never looking back (except a few wistful glances at the ocean). She is the editor of “Cascade Journal” and the author of “Bend, Oregon Daycations: Day Trips for Curious Travelers,” "Day Trips From Portland: Getaway Ideas for the Local Traveler” and “Chance of Sun: An Oregon Memoir.” Catch her around the state sampling microbrews, hiking river trails, walking beaches, and hanging out with her family.

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