Oh Christmas Tree!


This has been a curious kind of day. As daylight broke on this Sunday morning, the frosty air was alight with snowflakes. By midday, the fog was so thick and drizzly that capelin could very well have been running in the land wash. And as I write, the wind is gusting, fuelled by drifting rain. In fact, it's one of the great mysteries of civilization that we weren't blown off the edge of the world this weekend. (And there were no lineups at Costco this afternoon). Even the news has been a various mixture as stories ranging from how to get tickets for curling tournaments to the horrors of Aleppo, Syria were interspersed with Chrismas melodies.

So what about you? Where does this little blog find you on this uncommon Sunday evening? I’m sure many of you are busily wrapping presents in shiny paper, delighted that you were somehow able to find the perfect way to say thank you to your family and friends for a years worth of kindnesses. Others will be sitting for the first time today, tired but content, having somehow balanced all the wants of the world and the day. I hope some of you have found a sanctuary of sorts in the cheery chaos of Christmas as you sit with a staple of all of our Christmases, the old Christmas tree.

The Christmas tree….it has changed so much through the decades. Take a moment to think of the Christmas tree of your own childhood. For each of us, that nostalgic image will be different. I remember my mother talking about Christmas trees decorated lovingly with dolls, balloons and candles! Regardless of where you fall in the Christmas tree timeline, there remains one essential truth for all of us who grew up in rural communities, the Christmas tree was more of a verb than a noun. It was a process.

The tree had be chosen, tall but not too tall for those low tiled ceilings, not too wide on the bottom, not too bare, not too full.

Next, it was brought home and given a new source of life, the water-filled salt meat bucket, filled to the brim as it was hauled through the kitchen and into the front room. The moment of reckoning happened as everyone stood back and sized up the tree, his height, his breadth, his ability to stand the fierce wood heat until old Christmas day! The true measure of a tree came when all of these exacting criteria were added up.

Then, the decorating began and here is where the two, sometimes, mythical, threads of history start to unravel and go off in different directions. In the 1980s and even into the 90s, the character of the Christmas tree was marked by a love of colour and sparkle. The big boa-like garland flowed around the tree like a shiny snake, red and gold, blue and silver. The colourful ornaments of all shapes and sizes were placed here, there and everywhere. There was no pattern, no plan, no theme. Then came the finishing touch, the tinsel. I can still see those spellbinding drops of silver catching the evening light.

As the millennium approached, the old Christmas tree got a makeover. In essence, the Christmas tree was professionalized. It was almost as if the wild child of the 80s, cool and snazzy in her flashy blouse and fringes got a new job and started wearing a smart suit to work every day. Tulle came on the scene, accompanied by her friends white lights and plastic branches.

The Christmas tree became organized. Gone were the vibrant bulbs and tinsel, replaced by a much tidier version of itself . I say this not to judge. The 2016 Christmas tree has its own glamorous beauty and charm. People spend hours decorating trees now, creating Christmas masterpieces that any of us would love to have sitting in our living rooms.

As this day ends and Christmas week begins I do ask that you sit down tonight (if you haven’t blown away) and enjoy the beauty of your tree and your life. Take a breath and close your eyes. Remember the tree of your childhood. Remember the magic it brought to your Christmas. Remember the blessings that this day and this year has graced you with. Because many miles way, in other beautiful places on this planet like Syria, where people feel as connected to their place as we do to ours, the opportunities to sit and reflect are limited. So as we gaze upon our trees, whether they be colourful and tinsle-y or dressed in dreamy tulle, let's remember them, too and be thankful for our quiet coves at Christmas and always.


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