I haven’t taken my Christmas tree down yet. I just can’t bring myself to it. To bring it down is officially ending the holidays, which I’m currently in denial about because I can still feel the wind on my face as I soar down Yodeler on January 3rd. To top it off, the tree continues to fill my senses with a subtle scent of evergreen as I pass it. I stop to admire the cute branches which opened up fully to the warmth of my house, revealing such a fullness of tree. I enjoy looking through the tree–always have–seeing the lights sparkling on the other side. As a child, I played “dollhouse” with the ornaments, sticking a few inside the tree, close to the trunk, so that I could watch them sparkle in the ambient light from the lights on the other side. I used to look into the tree and imagine what a world would be like were I that small–a world where all around me was the spoke-like beauty of a tree above and below me, illuminated by the sparkle of colorful lights. I wanted to be small enough to float through it and look all around.
I guess that’s why I like pine forests the best. The fresh Christmas smell, the spokes overhead obscuring my view of the sky with prickly green fingers that thread between each other to make a slitted ceiling. There’s a nice path in the Cuyahoga Valley, the trail head of which is called Pine Lane. It starts out in pines, then winds through a ravine, and comes back up a mile or two later right before Boston Mills Road at another lane of pine trees. It’s always hard to walk on the surfacing roots–my klutzy feet trip all over the place–but it is my favorite part of the walk. Not a lot of people hike on that trail either and I like that I can be alone there–alone with the smell of pine filling my nose. Pine doesn’t overwhelm, it just softly wafts. There’s no better smell than that to me; except maybe pumpkin pie, which is also a subtle scent that just kisses the tips of your nostrils–almost there, almost perceptible, but just out of reach of full disclosure so you have to sniff again and again to get the fullest perception of the scent.
I guess I’ll take the tree down this weekend. It will be a sad, sad moment. Such a short time we were together, but such vivid, warm memories attained from it. Going to select it with my dad was the best. He’s so good at picking out Christmas trees–he understands the aesthetics–and it seems to make him happy to help me. I actually just let him pick, making the ultimate decision based on the one he seems to have had the biggest reaction to. He also has a way of “weeding out” the ones with too big of bare spots, which is something I’d probably miss if I looked myself. We don’t have many bonding moments, but this was always our thing, from back when I was very young, before my mom got the artificial tree that impeded on our tradition. It’s nice that we can go back to that, several years later, and that my dad so willingly obliges.
I slept in the living room the night I bought it while I let it warm up and unfold its branches before decorating. The smell of pine filled my nose sharply all night and filled my dreams with sugar-plums and Christmas anticipation. I spent all Saturday morning decorating it. I had to go to ABC holiday party that afternoon and I even skipped my morning exercise on the trainer to complete it. I’m so careful and deliberate about how I place ornaments–each has to go in the “right spot.” I remember the feeling of contented accomplishment as I completed it. I skipped–yes, literally–from room to room in my house, going about my chores, I was so happy. My house was filled with Christmas spirit from that moment forward.
I have no problem buying a real tree because I feel like it’s almost an act of worshipful praise to nature and the circle of life. You take a tree home–bring a little spring/summer into your home in the coldest and darkest of winter–and then you don it with beautiful decorations, the best vestments any moving creature could desire. For one fine month, you admire it glowing in the dark of your house, people come over and admire it; its beauty makes you feel content and fills you with the excitement of the season. You task it with the duty to stand guard over the gifts you’ve bought for your friends and family. The tree stands as the most beautiful sentinel. It’s really the best fate for a tree, to be praised in such a way and heartily admired.
I guess, though, in some sick way it’s like what the ancient people might have done to human sacrifices before sending them off to their death. You get one full month to live life to the fullest, being praised by all, and then you’re sent to your funeral pyre, a sacrifice to the gods. But maybe that’s not so bad for a tree. I will either send mine for compost or use it in one of my summer bonfires.
I can’t help but feel slightly bad about taking it down and sending it to its imminent fate. It’s a bit eccentric of me to grow an emotional attachment to a tree. I hope it understands. I guess I’m the tree-hugger all my conservative friends and family have accused me of being all these years.
Michael told me that one year his family planted their Christmas tree in the yard. I had a comical vision of my yard filled with the scores of pine trees from every Christmas from here until the rest of my life, my guilty heart feeling compelled to save all these lives. I hope there’s a special plot in heaven for pine trees who sacrificed their lives for Christmas. I hope all mine commiserate together and brag to the other trees that I treated them best.
Next year, I’ll have to get one sooner so I have longer to appreciate it and less separation anxiety after the holidays.
The last time my dad was over and I showed him the tree in all its glory, he said, “Man, it’s almost a shame that they chopped it down. It’s such a nice tree.”
Ah, yes. Indeed it is.