Oh, Christmas Tree…

Source of image: Canadian Tire

For a few years now, I have questioned the wisdom of purchasing a live Christmas tree. On a moral and spiritual level, I always feel guilt: I believe trees are as alive as I am. Why would I be okay with killing a tree for a tradition? In a time where our planet needs trees more than ever? Well, buying an artificial tree that is not biodegradable and that will absolutely end up in a landfill eventually is just not an option for me, either. And I am blessed to live in a country where live Christmas trees are plentiful. Unlike our parents and grandparents, we don’t go into the forest anymore to cut down a tree that – in time – would have become a giant. Instead, the cultivation of trees for just this occasion has become a tidy part of local business (and I always try to support local business). These trees are specifically grown for exactly this purpose – fields and fields of them, just kilometers from our home.

And oh, the smell of a real fir tree! There is nothing quite like it…

This year, the farmer who grows and sells his own trees and lives just down the road from us must have retired. To our dismay, when we drove over to purchase our annual tree (and to enjoy our annual conversation with he and his wife), there was no sign of his thriving little business. Truly chagrined, my husband suggested we buy our tree at the local grocery store, instead.

In retrospect, the whole thing was doomed from the start.

It was the first time in my forty-or-so years buying a Christmas tree where there was no knowledgeable tree farmer outside to guide us through the process; to show us a few of the trees on hand; to discuss the merits of height and breadth. Usually, once we have made our choice, I always ask the vendor to cut a good chunk off the bottom in order to ensure it won’t be too tall for the low ceiling of our older, country house, and also, to help the tree drink better after we bring it inside. By the time we got to the store, there weren’t a lot of trees to choose from, and only one that was unwrapped. My husband didn’t much like the solitary tree that was on display, but I – ever the optimist when it comes to a Christmas tree – insisted that it would be beautiful if only we pointed the less becoming side toward the wall. With no vendor available (we’d gone inside to pay), a very kind fellow shopper helped us wrestle the tree onto the roof of the car and we optimistically headed for home.

The problem with cultivated Christmas trees, compared with the Charlie Brown Christmas trees that my generation grew up with, is that they are to the Christmas tree world what Arnold Schwarzenegger is to body building. They are huge and unwieldy, with branches so close together it’s a challenge to hang your ornaments on them. And unlike the spindly little tree trunks of yore, the trunks of cultivated trees are massive.

We tried – to no avail – to cut a chunk off the trunk of that still very-wet tree before putting it into its stand. When our little saw proved truly incapable of such a gargantuan task, we refocussed our energy wrestling the tree – with a trunk the size of my husband’s sizeable biceps – into a stand that looked – in comparison to the tree – to be the size of a teacup. When we stood the tree up, it soon became clear to us that whoever cut said tree had their chainsaw at an angle: when we stood it straight and tried to screw in the bolts of the stand, the tree was tottering, ballerina-like – on one tiny tip of its considerable trunk. I am trying – and failing – to adequately express just how many times that tree was placed in its stand; readjusted in the stand; removed from the stand; re-placed in its stand; moved into the house; moved back to the balcony and then back again into the house as we cajoled, manoeuvred and fussed over it.

All to absolutely no avail.

Couples tend to have an uncanny radar when it comes to one another’s ‘tone’.

Our tempers – still carefully under control – were now getting dangerously close to the surface. At one point, my husband declared that he was going to “throw the bloody tree over the river bank.” In complete agreement at this point, but not picking up on his sarcasm, I helpfully suggested putting it at the end of the driveway and putting a ‘free – please take’ sign on it instead. I made a lot of other very supportive suggestions and I swear, they were meant to be helpful.

Apparently, they were not helpful. At some point, my beloved, in frustration, bodily lifted that massive tree and hurled it off the balcony (I might have been impressed had I not been so annoyed).

Hurtled tree notwithstanding (and with a good hour interval for us to both calm down) we did eventually get the tree, leaning like the Tower of Pisa, into the house. Happily, the pretty side was facing toward us. Despite its alarming lean in our direction, it was – we both a greed – the prettiest tree we’ve ever had (we tend to say that every year, though, so the reader shouldn’t put too much store in this statement).

I got the lights strung and then warily circled our beautiful tree for a few days. I wanted to be very sure it was going to stay upright. Two-day test successfully over, I finally carried our treasured box of ornaments downstairs and – smiling in anticipation – prepared to begin my favourite part of decorating for Christmas. I got as far as gently rearranging the lights near the top of the tree when it began to slowly, gently but inexorably fall in my direction.

That tree had had no intention of ever standing straight again.

For the first time in both of our lifetimes, there is no Christmas tree in our house this year. We did salvage our tipsy tree by binding it firmly to the balcony, ugly side out, because that’s how the tree leans the best. I restrung the lights, carefully manoeuvring around all the ropes holding it up.

It sure is pretty…

Patti Moore Wilson/© wednesdayschildca.wordpress.com




Author: Patti Moore Wilson, wednesdayschild2

I write what I feel. And I rarely know exactly what I feel until I write. I have lived long enough to have known many joys and many sorrows. I have made many mistakes; I have forgiven myself for a few… I have learned that there are lessons in every step of this journey, if we only take the time to pay attention… I hope you will feel free to pick and choose the stories that resonate for you…

10 thoughts on “Oh, Christmas Tree…”

  1. I thought you were going to write that after all that trouble you got the tree to stand up straight but then the lights stopped working! That’s what would happen to us. At least, you’re sort of laughing about the experience and have a great story to tell in future years! Lol!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. We always have a live tree, and utilize a tree stand from way-back-when which works great, but the design requires the trunk to be no more than a certain size, and also not have branches too close to the bottom. As usual, we ask to have a couple of inches taken off the bottom as well as any branches which might interfere with putting the tree into the stand and securing it. When we got it home, we found there was more taken off the bottom than requested, and now we had “branch issues.” We discovered this only AFTER bringing it inside so back outside it went. Got the hand-saw. Cut off the branches. Back inside. Fit perfectly. Hopefully, there is no audio recording available of what was coming out of my mouth when I had to take the tree back outside…🙂 You created a new memory with your tree, that much is sure!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. How frustrating! It’s great that you’re able to laugh about it 😀 I’ve never had a live Christmas tree. I kept an artificial one for several years but, for the past five years, have since stopped Xmas tree decorations. Last year, my young neighbor, who also enjoys gardening, bought a one-foot tall potted Christmas tree. I don’t know the name of the species. After Christmas, she kept it alive outdoors for use again this Christmas. When I feel up to it, I string battery-operated fairy-lights in the two camellia trees outside my apartment.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Just read your latest post so I can picture how pretty those camellia trees must look when decorated, Rosaliene 🙂 That’s a great idea, getting a potted tree and decorating it each year until it’s ready for a more permanent home. As cultivated trees are so plentiful up here, you don’t often notice the potted ones unless you are specifically looking. I will keep my eyes open for next year!!!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you for sharing!!.. with the holiday being the spirit of giving and I try to give in some manner year around, I have a little 3 foot tree on a small table in a corner of the living room, decorated (no lights) year around… do not have to worry about needles on the floor and no tree has to pay the ultimate sacrifice to bring joy into my home…. 🙂

    Hope you and your family have the mostest wonderfulest holiday and Christmas ever and until we meet again..
    May love and laughter light your days,
    and warm your heart and home.
    May good and faithful friends be yours,
    wherever you may roam.
    May peace and plenty bless your world
    with joy that long endures.
    May all life’s passing seasons
    bring the best to you and yours!
    (Irish Saying)


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