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Location: Clearwater, South Carolina, United States

Friday, December 02, 2005

the tree

Ah – for the Christmas trees of old, when you went to the forest and fought your way through the bears, wolves, cougars, nutty squirrels and vicious songbirds. Then you hunted the best tree you could find and directed your pet beaver to cut it down – OK, OK, that was taking it a little far – we had axes back then and the tree was felled with great effort. Are trees still felled or do they just cut them down?

The semi-lifeless body of this once vibrant member of the primal forest was then unceremoniously dragged from its home and tied to a conveyance like one would a large dead animal. ‘sniff’ Then it was cut, trimmed and hacked until it would fit into the stifling confines of a human abode. ‘sob’ Then the denizens of the structure would comment how good the very life-giving sap of the pine or cedar smelled as it slowly dripped from the central body of the poor tree. The odor permeated the house as this vital moisture found its way to the carpeted floor and dried in the synthetic fibers.

Of course the process did have its flaws, because the tree, no matter how well you chose, still had odd-shaped branches and holes to fill in where these limbs were too far apart. But remember, that was way back when life was imperfect and flaws were expected; you just had to turn the big gaps toward the wall. Most people were not perfect either in those by-gone days.

Today it’s different, you have go to the forest of Christmas storage boxes, packed tightly in a very small space and fight your way through all the other boxes you had meant to stack more neatly several months ago. Then drag out the box holding the tree - that is not even a real tree and never has been. Slashing the tape holding the box together, the ‘tree’ is assembled and set upright. The somewhat evenly spaced branches are fluffed out and you're ready to decorate. This just seems so artificial.

This has been the process for about the last dozen years or so, but this year we decided to change. No, I did not go back to the forest and fight the critters, nor did I take the Scrooge approach and do nothing, we bought a new ‘tree’. And not just a ‘tree’, one that already had lights installed – surely I could not have whined that much about putting the lights on the other fake one we’ve had so long.

The fake tree was even made in a country that knows nothing of the meaning of this special holiday. I should be ashamed, but I’m not – just trying to be happy, because if Wifey ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy. Now I’m happy, ‘cause that’s what Wifey wanted.

This ‘tree’ had to be put up in stages, first, the box sat in the foyer for at least a week to get used to the house, I did not want this new member of the household to be traumatized before it was acclimated to its new surroundings, even if it was only to be out in the open a few weeks a year. Then the box was opened and the parts were placed on the den floor for several days. Only then were the stand and the bottom section assembled.

After a couple of days, I felt like this part of the ‘tree’ had rested up enough to go through the rigors of ‘branch’ straightening. Then it was, see the tree, know the tree, feel the tree, be the tree – I get so caught up in the pretense of this metal spined object actually being a tree. Anyway, all the ‘branches’ were pulled out and positioned to look like a ‘real tree’ and then I placed the second section in place and plugged up all the light wires. The limbs of this section were formed and the top section was placed and formed.

This latter process took the better part of a whole day, especially since I had to take so many computer and/or hot tea breaks. The symbol is in its place and all the lights work. I’m now hoping that I didn’t get one of those ‘holiday trees’ instead of the real thing. It’s too late now though, because it has already been deemed a Christmas tree, whether the devil – or Sears – likes it or not.

I feel much better now that I have purged these vituperative words from my system and used this missive as a catharsis. Whether it is actually that or I was just being extremely silly, or a little of both, should be fairly obvious.

Regardless of any outward symbol, the inward joy of this season and the celebration of the birth of the One that brought hope into the world are real and so are all the memories of the past and those soon to be formed. ec


Blogger Bonita said...

I like your story - you are talking about 'hope' and renewal, and the tree limbs are trying just that. The process of straightening, smoothing, shaping - wonderful metaphors for building that relationship you are talking about here.

12/02/2005 10:24:00 AM  
Blogger Anvilcloud said...

Nobody puts up real trees because, once they are hacked and rootless, they aren't real any more.

12/02/2005 11:37:00 AM  
Blogger Enemy of the Republic said...

My goodness, you write so well. This is absolutely lovely. Christmas trees,ah it is that time!

12/02/2005 07:48:00 PM  
Blogger Jayleigh said...

vicious songbirds

love it!

Thanks for sharing your story. I followed you from CJ's.

12/02/2005 10:25:00 PM  
Blogger Jenni Shaver said...

Mr Eddie, I wish I could joy in the decorating of the Christmas tree, but this year our stuff is getting packed before Christmas. Although we are packing some things to take with us, Christmas decorations did not make the list. We are planning on only taking what we need to live with for a few months, so the AF can keep our non-neccessary items in storage until we are completely settled. So I loved reading your story of the new tree (not having to put the lights on will make the net years of your life much happier. Although, since my parents have done the same, the old tree goes in the dinning room and dad still has to string lights on it every year. Good Luck with that, you never know what us wifeys will come up with!) See you soon. Jenni

12/03/2005 03:41:00 PM  

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