THE CHRISTMAS TREE in my house has been up, decorated and lit for two weeks now.

I unashamedly admit that I am a Christmas tree and lights addict. I can’t help but think that there are a lot worse things I could be addicted to.

When it comes to finding the next Christmas tree for our house, the search generally begins when almost all the snow has melted in north Wisconsin, beginning sometime in April and extending into May, until the deciduous trees begin to leaf out heavy enough to prevent a good look at a balsam fir growing in their midst.

Put on hold after green up, searching for the next Christmas tree begins once again after October’s winds strip the hardwoods of their leaves. It continues into late November, even if I’ve located two or three “perfect” candidates already.

Come the first week of December, with Swede saw in hand, I head to the woods to make a final decision on which of my perfect trees is perfect enough to grace our living room for the rest of December; sometimes even through the first week of January.

For quite a few years, I’ve had the privilege of finding a Christmas tree on private lands owned by friends. Between the three of them, they own a couple hundred acres; much of the space peppered with balsam fir which is the only kind of tree I will cut.

This year, my final search was carried out and completed in short order as I decided wading through nearly knee-deep snow for about a quarter-mile to reach a good, but not great tree, was much preferable to wading through the snow another half-mile to reach what I decided was a magnificent tree when I found it in late October.

The saw did its work, the drag was made easier since it was almost all downhill and in short order, the latest balsam fir of my choosing was standing tall in our living room.

At least as much in importance as finding and cutting a Christmas tree is the feeling of peace and contentment I feel as I go about my task.

Walking quietly through the woods, sometimes crossing the early ice on a small lake, a person can leave behind all his or her worries and everyday concerns, if only for an hour or two.

The only companions accompanying me where I wander are the songbirds, the occasional ruffed grouse or family of wild turkeys, maybe a deer or two or three, a gray squirrel here and there, and a few noisy ravens squawking as they fly overhead.

Time is of no importance. Much of my time is spent doing things like leaning against a handy dead tree while being amazed at what a huge pile of semi-rotten wood can be torn loose and knocked to the ground by a pileated woodpecker searching for a dinner of grubs.

Chickadees and nuthatches are most welcome companions, and despite his oftentimes annoying chattering, so is a red squirrel agitated by my appearance.

Standing quietly, drinking in the calm serenity of the whole scene, I conclude that the place in which I find myself is the nearest thing there is to Utopia on Earth.

I find myself wishing that time might stand still, that I might be allowed to stay in the sanctuary of wherever I find myself deep in the woods forever or at least until the stinging of pre-frostbite begins to creep into my toes.

When cold overtakes the love of being romanced by pure green balsam branches drooping under a load of fresh snow, I remember my appointed task, leaving my reverie behind as I move on to the welcome job of cutting another family Christmas tree.

Though, as the case was this year, I pretty much know what tree I am going to cut, I still find myself scrutinizing and judging many other trees along the way, some of which I have already looked at from every angle more than once in my earlier wanderings.

The tree I cut is usually found standing a bit away from crowded balsams surrounding it, having grown to a perfect fullness and form where ample sunshine and precipitation have allowed it to thrive.

Quickly sawing the chosen tree down, I stand it up to give it one more look over. I visualize how it will look in the corner of our living room, deciding which side will face outward toward the furniture where we and our occasional guests will sit on while admiring its beauty.

I must admit that over the 60 years I have been cutting a family Christmas tree, a task my dad turned over to me when I turned 12, there have been years when I cut two or three perfect trees which turned out to be considerably less perfect than they looked atop a 30-foot trunk, before finally cutting the truly perfect tree.

When I cut this year’s tree, I took my usual time to admire it as I propped it up against a handy birch. Chewing a tiny sprig of soft green needles, I trudged my way back to the truck, loaded it and headed home while contentedly humming “O’ Christmas Tree” all the way.

Clark Griswold had triumphed again.