I have been feeling very un-bloggy lately, hence my silence. Do I really have anything interesting to say? Does anyone care? Is it worth my precious time writing? Hmmm…. Big questions.
So please excuse my absence, but let me talk now about our Christmas tree. It is ugly, yet beautiful. Humble, yet profound.
First a bit of background on my eternal Christmas tree angst. I have always hated the thought of cutting down a living tree to decorate my house for a few weeks and then toss out (even if recycled into mulch). If I didn’t have kids, I wouldn’t have a tree at all. But the tree, and all the ornaments that are rediscovered year after year, are so much a fun and memorable part of a child’s Christmas, that I hate to deny them that.
Yes, we could decorate a ficus, but the idea of singing carols and sipping cocoa around the Christmas Ficus just doesn’t have the same cozy appeal to it. And since I am the kiss of death for houseplants, I’d simply be substituting a fir tree death sentence for that of a ficus.
I have done living trees before and then planted them in the yard (when I had a yard that was not packed full of pine trees already). That was lovely, but they can only be inside for a few days, are heavy, and here – pine trees grow like weeds. No room for more!
For the last 6 years I have had an artificial tree. It was easy, three pieces to put together and lights already on it, but Christmas seems artificial enough to me in so many ways, without a fake tree too. Plus, it always felt kind of nasty to touch and probably oozed all kinds of chemicals. Not very Christmassy.
This year I came up with what I think is the perfect solution, for us anyway. We have so many trees on our property and, as I said above, Ponderosa pines literally grow like weeds here. After a good rain, hundreds of seedlings miraculously appear as you can see in this picture:
Despite my aversion to tree cutting, we are in desperate need of thinning a bit. Fire safety is a HUGE issue here, especially after our close call in 2002. Plus, the smaller trees sap the meager nutrients and scarce water from the more mature trees leaving them tall, but thin and sickly looking.
I don’t want to get into a forest management lecture or debate here, but the truth is that we really need to take out some of the smaller trees that are growing close to the larger ones before a fire does it for us.
So, with that in mind, I had the idea to cut a small one down and make it our Christmas tree. It would eventually be cut anyhow, but at least this way it would go in a blaze of richly adorned glory and be much enjoyed and remembered.
We picked a thin one growing near a mature one and all went out to “help” my husband with the cutting. Despite a bad back and even worse weather that day, he got it done.
Then, “we,” as in my husband – under my direction – cut it in half. The original tree was only about three inches in diameter but probably 16 feet tall with all the branches at the top. We ended up with an 8 foot tall tree that fits nicely in our tall living room.
It was so thin and light that the kids were able to carry it into the house themselves.
The cats thought it was wonderful having their very own tree lying in the middle of the front entryway.
Here is the final result:
It is rather a spindly, thin, pathetic tree, but Ponderosas don’t have a very thick array of branches, especially when young.
However, as my daughter said: “This is my favorite tree ever because you can see the ornaments!” Yes, you can.
This is my favorite tree ever because, although it may not be perfect, we chose it and cut it ourselves, gave it a “new life,” and it cost no money!
I don’t want a perfect Christmas, I just want one the the children will remember fondly, and I hope that they might remember this.
(You can read more about Christmas tree options here: The Great Christmas Tree Dilemma)