This summer and fall I spent a lot of time with wild trees, trees that were in charge of things. I helped dig them up and replant them. I watered saplings with hope and wishes ….and water. Every morning I walked around the quiet property and looked them over with my kind host. He had a special irrigation system that involved driving slender pipes into the earth beside the saplings in hopes of directing what little rain water we got down to the root system. I had my doubts and worried that freezing rain and ice would later do damage. We lamented over some trees that looked a bit straggly and beamed at others that were obviously doing well. We even had our favorites. Some had been planted in other years and had “taken”. Pruning took place, roots were hacked out and burned out and bird feeders were nailed up. No matter what we did there was for me always this feeling that the trees might cooperate with us but that in the final analysis, the trees were going to do what they wanted.
Christmas trees are different. They’re not wild but rather a “product” like an oversized broccoli that we pick up at the grocery store, at the charity lot or at the hardware store We lug the tree home and set it up as we have year after year. I always swear to buy a new base but forget and end up screwing long anchor screws into the trunk of the tree and filling up the rusty bowl below with cool water. At the market last weekend, one young woman was hauling her tree home in the baby’s carrier. Pride of place to the tree and dad left to handle the little one.
Even though no exciting expedition into the woods was required, even though no chopping away with an axe or long haul back to the house was involved, I still get a thrill when the tree comes into the house. It’s more than a Christmas tree, it’s the welcoming of something big and natural into the house. It’s going to smell different. It’s going to drop needles all over the floor. When my beloved grandchildren hang the old ornaments on the tree, it’s as if we are dressing a queen, a remnant of old beliefs, old powers. We honor her and love her and bow to her old beauty.