Monday, November 29, 2004

Deck the Halls (and the trees)

When I was still living at home (before I came to Redeemer), every weekend that was closest to Dec 5th my dad and I (and who ever else wanted to join) would go out find a Christmas tree for our living room. Granted, it wasn't the 'picturesque' traditional version of getting a tree. Instead of driving out into the country to a tree farm, we would visit various tree lots in the parkinglots of Food City, the Quinte Mall, Canadian Tire, and where ever else we had seen them set up in the week previous. After we found 'our' tree, rather than getting out the saw and making the kill, we'd point out the tree to the sales man and he'd grab the trunk with his thick leather glove, pound it down onto the ground a few times to rid it of the excess snow, and we'd put it in the car and bungee the trunk shut.
After the tree sat in our basement for a few hours, drying out and filling out its branches, a few hours of setting up the tree would ensue with mixed emotions and exclamations. Like clockwork, my mom would gripe and pronounce that this was the last year that we were getting a real tree! I knew that these afternoons were extremely stressful for her, but from my end of things, there was nothing in the world that I would rather be doing than getting pricked in the fingers by the needles as I helped to straighten the tree. Before any decorations were allowed to adorn the tree, one pivitol step remained: securing the tree to two walls with fishing line. We learned, after several years of waking up to our tree on the ground, to use this as a preventative measure rather than a cure after the mishap.
It was always a race to place the first ornament onto the tree. We all have ornaments that belong to us, so the idea was that we each wanted ours to be the first one on. My favourite first ornament was always a little red sleigh made out of painted popsicle sticks, a Christmas present from many many years ago. Lights, garlands, beads, ornaments and tinsel.
It never looked like a tree from a magazine. I wouldn't have wanted it to. They look so fake, so unloved. Each ornament on our tree has a different story behind it, and has a reason for being on our tree.
When I was still small enough, I would lie under the tree looking up into the needles and lights, smelling the fresh sap and pine. I imagined myself into so many different places when I was under that tree.
I don't think that I could count all of the times that I would wait for everyone to go to bed, or even just get up at five in the morning, go into the living room and plug in the tree. I have rarely known moments as peaceful as those were, as I sat hugging my knees to my chest, the curtains open, watching the dim walls reflect the constant light of some strands on the tree and the uneven pulsing of others. Sometimes it would be snowing and I would sit infront of the open window, inhaling the frost bitten air into the deepest part of my lungs. These were my moments, the moments that God made for Jenn.

I was disappointed when my mom finally followed through with her statement three years ago and we got a fake tree. Somehow, they're just not the same. They don't have the same feeling behind them, they don't give you the hassle of going to find a tree and fitting it into a trunk and screwing the stand into it and scratching and poking you like real trees do. That's exactly the point, a lot of people will probably respond, that's why a fake tree is better. But just because it's less hassle doesn't make it the better choice. Some things in this world are worth the effort, and to me, Christmas trees are some of them. Mind you, I don't refuse the fake tree. In the end, the same ornaments are placed on it with the same sentiments behind, and last year I still got up in the middle of the night and turned on the tree and hugged my knees and just watched. There isn't an object in my house throughout the rest of the year that embodies as much love and history as our Christmas Tree.

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