Saturday, December 25, 2010

oh christmas tree

My Christmas tree was raised by hand. It's a tame tree. Until a couple weeks ago, it lived on a farm surrounded by a tiny forest, all the same age and size in neatly planted rows. Its trunk is as straight as an arrow. Its branches are evenly spaced and full. We just brought it home and winched it into the tree stand. Presto, a perfect green triangle awaiting lights and finery.
Not so the trees of childhood days. My father began keeping his eye out for a tree as he graded highways and byways in the late weeks of autumn. Waiting until after the heavy snows of winter made choosing a tree a guessing game. Some years, we would set out into the forest with toboggan and toque and search until dusk and numb feet hastened the selection process.
Back home, measurements would be taken.
More sawing would be inevitable.
In Blue River, our tree stand was a galvanized CN pail filled with coal. This gave way eventually, to folding metal contraptions, like those found in castle dungeons.
Just getting a frozen tree wrestled through the door and into the stand was taxing work. Getting it upright and keeping it that way through the holidays, an amazing feat of engineering. More often than not, the tree would list abit to the starboard, as though leaning toward the light.
Little wild trees stretch toward the light under the shelter of giant fir and pine and spruce. Their branches are often widely spaced. This must have been perfect for clipping lit candles to the branch tips, and for hanging ornaments straight and true in the spaces between branches.
My mother remembers lit candles on the tree. The trees of my childhood though, glowed with multicolor bubble lights percolating among the branches. Nests of angel hair softened the brightness of rainbow light bulbs. Tinsel, chunky snowball lights, blown glass birds with fish line tails, and  magical glass ornaments trimmed in gold and silver decked the festal limbs. Nobody had a theme tree and color coordination hadn't met Christmas yet.
There has been a "less is more" approach to decorating in the last few years.
Elegance is found in simplicity.
Still, the trees of yesterday with their exuberant embrace of color and glitz glow warmly in my minds eye. They prove that beauty is found not only in the perfect, but in any expression of celebration, even if it leans towards the window.

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