First thing this morning, streaks of pink and orange crossing the sky, a touch of frost on the grass. It’s cold and I am bleary-eyed from too little sleep.
Time to go and fetch a Christmas tree, a real one for the first time in years, and the first real tree that wasn’t purchased for charitable support of some sort. Nothing shipped in from a Christmas tree farm. Just a home-grown number.
I pull on a lightweight sweater and my jeans and put on my Elf Shoes Version 2.0.–red hi-top Nikes with one glittery green lace and one green-and-white-striped lace. I grab my newly washed red fleece cape with the hood–yes, call me Not-so-Little Red Riding Hood. I’m still cold so I grab my sequined Santa hat and pop it on my head. My husband walks by as I adjust it in front of the bathroom mirror and gives me a look.
“You don’t have to get glammed up for this, you know.”
“I know. Got to wear something. Figured I might as well look festive. ‘Tis the season and all that.”
Even with the cape, I am chilled. I grab a sweater. Of course, it is a Christmas cardigan, with festive appliques and embroidery. You can’t see it under the cape, but I know it’s there. I tug on my black knit gloves with the soft chenille cuffs and I am ready to go.
We drive up and down the dirt road in our Jeep, windows rolled down to check out what’s available, heater blasting to take the edge of the morning chill. We’re looking for a cedar.
“Right size–oh, really lop-sided.”
Benny points and grins. “How about that one?”
It’s a sprout. A little better than a Charlie Brown tree, but not much.
“I think we can do better than that.”
“This one’s nice.” We get out to inspect it. It’s full–very full. Not sure it will fit into the alloted space in the living room. And I honestly don’t want something as big as our artificial tree. FMS body is demanding I scale back.
Back into the Jeep, our eyes peeled for other candidates. Finally, we decide on one. It’s not perfect, but it will work, its size much more manageable for me. Benny cuts it down with an old hand saw. I hold the saw for him as he lifts the tree to place it on the rack atop the Jeep.
“This was Daddy’s, wasn’t it?” He nods in the affirmative as we tie it down with a bungee cord.
I remember hunting for Christmas trees back in my childhood and smile as I look at the saw with its slightly rusted handle.”Daddy never cut down the tree we chose. He knew better . . . and there was always a huge bald spot. Never failed.”
Fast forward about 12 hours. Benny helps me sort through the lights and find working strands. I’d always gone for white lights in the early days of our marriage. But Benny recalled the colored lights of our childhoods so warmly and wistfully. I’d bought colored lights a few years ago–and one strand of genuine Noma Bubble Lights just for him to enjoy. Very retro.
We have–lots of ornaments. I love Christmas and collecting Christmas items of all sorts. We’ve had a 7 1/2 foot artificial tree in the past, very full, with lots of branches.
Everything won’t fit on this smaller, wispier tree. And with its slightly assymetrical look, its homeliness and fewer, more delicate branches, it seems to me myfaceted beaded garlands, opalescent glass spheres, delicate angels and other breakable ornaments should stay put in their boxes. They are made for a showier tree.
This year it will be starched white crochet snowflakes, comical clothespin reindeer, cross-stitched ornaments made by yours truly, Olde Worlde cloth-covered styrofoam balls, handkerchief angels . . . a homey, homely, handmade sort of Christmas.
Well, except for one thing. We cannot find our angel tree topper. We try out one of our old-fashioned Santa figures but it’s just too heavy.
What to do?
Just had to glam it up a little, you know. ‘Tis the season, y’all. And now my tired old body begs for a hot shower with some lavender vanilla body wash to help me relax. Hoping for sweet dReAms.
Now I wouldn’t leave you without some Armitage beauty, either. ‘Tis always the season for THAT.
- The Royal Roots of the American Christmas Tree (history.com)