I’m not sure when the idea came to me.
It may have had its origin last Christmas, when the ordeal of setting up our beloved old fake spruce had me sobbing. The needles were wearing off, the trunk was wobbly, and it was jam packed with memories. It broke my heart to hang those little family treasures on its bent branches. I knew that it was time to say goodbye to our Christmas tree, and to maybe think about getting a real tree for once!
So as the days grew shorter this year, we knew that we wanted something new. The old tree is retired. The kids are all grown up. It’s time for some new traditions. But what would they be?
I was out walking the dogs one morning, looking around the yard and bemoaning the fact that the forest seems to be encroaching, coming closer to the house each year. The hemlocks along the drive needed trimming, and the white pines have sent their babies marching right into the lawn. I sighed, knowing that as much as I hate to cut down trees, I would have to reclaim our space.
Then it hit me.
I live in a PINE forest! Huzzah!
Paul and I began to examine all of the likely candidates as we strolled around our property for the next few weeks. One young hemlock looked likely, until we realized that he had sprouted up right next to another, larger tree, and his backside was pretty much bare. Another was lush and full and looked perfect until we realized that it was only about 5 feet tall.
Finally, we came upon a group of white pines, growing together along the edge of a field. We walked around them, noting the shape, the height, the width of the trunks. Finally, we found our candidate.
Paul grabbed a saw, and set to work.
We dragged him into the house, and stood him up. The scent of fresh pine filled the air.
He isn’t perfect. He doesn’t look like your traditional balsam or spruce. There’s a big open space in the middle where we can see his trunk, and he’s kind of skinny. Rather than culminating in a lovely little point where a shiny star can perch, this tree sends up no fewer than four top branches; I think it looks as if he is wearing a crown.
Unlike the metal branches of our old tree, this one has limbs that bend and sway. They droop and dip. They can’t hold our bigger ornaments, so those are displayed along the bay window.
Still, I love this Christmas tree in a way that is hard to explain. I love his funny top and I love his bare spaces. I even smile at the drips and drops of sap that are landing on the gifts gathered below.
This tree has spirit. He stands up straight and proud, unfazed by his droopy arms or his skinny middle. He is draped in lights and festooned with garland.
He is fresh, he is local and he is real.
He says, “Merry Christmas!” and so do I.
I wish you all a renewed sense of hope in the face of tragedy, of love when shocked by hatred, of peace to triumph over anger and strife.