Growing up in Scotland, we always had an artificial tree – a white one at that – which would stand majestically, decorated with tinsel and fuchsia coloured baubles. We moved a lot back then, and the tree came with us, like an anchor, helping us stay afloat when everything else around us had changed.
I am not sure what happened to that tree. I suspect it got ditched when my parents retired, and chose to spend their Christmas with us in Canada. But we’ve had our own escapades with trees – more of the natural kind.
It was quite the family tradition, that my husband and the girls would go off every year to pick the tree. He was quite fussy which tried the patience of the youngsters who were anxious to get home and get on with their own stuff. Decorating the tree was a family affair, with handmade decorations that I’d made with the girls; baubles purchased with special memories that we would hang each year.
At one point when the girls were grown and left home, we gave in and purchased an artificial tree which was a beast to erect each year, and caused numerous cuts and bruises as we wrestled with it. But when we bought the farm, it was toast. You could hardly live in the country, and bring out an artificial tree. It seemed an oxymoron.
No, that first year we got all romantic about it all and decided we would cut down our own tree. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but what we hadn’t thought through was just how we were going to get it back to the farmhouse. We’d had a heavy snow that winter, so moving it was no simple task, plus it was uphill and a fair distance away.
My daughter has photos of us, red-faced and out of breath as we lugged the tree back on a tarpaulin, muttering under our breath – never again. It certainly was a workout, but once standing tall in our living room, it made the season special.
Then there was the year that my husband, in his infinite wisdom, wanted a large, tall tree which we could accommodate in our new extension. But decorating this brute of a tree was an all-day affair, and when it was time to take it all down, we had to chop it up, in order to get it out of the house.
Lately, we’ve become less picky about the tree. Winters past it’s been very cold and instead of hanging around outside contemplating the merits of each tree, I’ve been advocating for the one closest to the car, so we can get it, load it up and get back into the warmth. Doesn’t always work, but I’ve noticed as we age, that there’s less debate about the tree.
Now this year, the fun begins as we have a young puppy (six months old) who is a climber, still likes to chew and is mischief on four legs. We are still debating how we will manage our friend, so we protect the tree, our treasured ornaments and the parcels under the tree. It may end up standing there naked, but likely not. We will come up with something, baby gates and the like.
When you look back on your Christmas trees, what stories come to mind for you? Our Christmas tree has been very much part of our tradition and for me, as I look at the ornaments, I am taken back to when the children were little, and in real awe of what Santa would bring. It’s a family time and no matter what type of tree you have, big or small, it is the people gathered around it that are important, as well as memories of those who are no longer with us.