In retrospect, of course, the tree which was topped was probably not that tall at all and my uncle was likely only ten or twelve feet above the ground. I certainly don't recall any ladders or ropes or challenging climbs. I do remember holding my dad's hand and looking skyward in eager anticipation.
Always, it was the same kind of tree - one with flat, well spaced branches from which we could hang decorations and icicles and paper chains. None of this 'cultured tree' business, with branches cropped so tightly and deformed so badly that there is no room for the ornaments to show off their beauty.
So when I moved out on my own and began the process of purchasing my own tree, I was always disappointed by the over-pruned, unnaturally shaped, far too bushy, not-fir trees in the tree lots. Oh, there were years when I cut my own tree (and I'm sure my daughter can tell you how, when she was eight and we lived in the Northwest Territories, she had to guide us out of the forest when her "no-sense-of-direction" mama got turned around and couldn't figure out where the road was). But mostly, I looked for the scrawniest, sparsest tree on the Christmas Tree lot - the Charlie Brown tree that no one else wanted but which was perfect for those dangling ornaments, looping paper chains, and single strands of glittering icicles (which we called tinsel when I was a child, before metallic garlands stole the name).
In recent years, I've moved away from cutting live trees, though I've never grown attached to artificial ones. Mostly, I go without an indoor tree, and decorate a potted one by the patio doors, using weatherproof decorations and outdoor lights.
|"Oliver's Tree" Xmas 2014|
(named for my precious dog Oliver, who passed away the year I bought the tree)
|Indoor "tree", Xmas 2014|
By Christmas Day, Mother Nature had added some of her own decorations:
This spring, I planted the shrub in my garden. It would, I was told, provide colour in the middle of winter - thin red branches and, eventually, bright yellow flowers. A couple of weeks ago I commented to a friend that I didn't think the bush had survived - there was no sign of red on the dead-looking branches, and no sign of new buds amidst the few leaves.
Two days after that conversation, I looked out my window and saw a hint of yellow, a few buds appearing, trying boldly to unfold. A week later, the shrub was covered in buds. And today it is covered in cheery yellow blossoms.
|Winter jasmine in my garden|
December 15, 2015.
Now tell me you don't believe in miracles!