Sunday, December 09, 2012

O Christmas Tree

I am remembering some of our most memorable Christmas trees today:

1. The Just Finished PDP Tree
Christmas 1983 is the Christmas of my finishing my university degree + one extra year for my teacher certification. I had an especially hard time in my final semester. The school teacher who I was partnered with was going through a difficult time personally, and was not in a good place to make we feel welcome or encouraged. Every day, for almost the whole semester, I cried on my way to and from school and usually also at some point during the day. I loved teaching, but I lived in total fear that I was going to fail the semester and have to repeat it, and my interactions with my teacher sponsor made me feel less than useless as a teacher, and sometimes as a person. Looking back, I think it was one of the worst periods of my life.

So when Christmas rolled around and I was finished with that, and I passed the program, and was ready to start life as a teacher, I was greatly relieved. I had just moved in with Andy, and that was very happy too. We lived in a small apartment in South Burnaby. I had a couple of weeks off work of any kind, and I commenced crafting. We bought an artificial Christmas tree, because real trees weren't allowed in the building, and I made all of the ornaments for it. I made clothespin reindeer, using wooden clothespins which I painted dark brown and decorated with felt, sequins, googly eyes and string. I sewed puffy stuffed stars out of felt, decorated with larger sequins. I crafted tiny mice in bed, sleeping in halved walnut shells, and I made little baskets with baby's breath flowers and tartan bows. I spent happy hours doing all of this. Andy put lights on the tree, and we put all of these home-made ornaments on. It was the most beautiful, therapeutic Christmas tree ever. We still have a lot of those home-made ornaments. When I put them on our tree I remember that year. It was a turning point in our lives. I didn't turn out to be a teacher, but Andy and I turned out to be a married couple soon after and forever more. I haven't ever been that miserable for that long any more, but I know that doing something creative and/or homey is a good reset for me.

2. The Almost Didn't Get A Tree
The kids were about 2 and 5, so it must have been about 1995. We were living in Port Moody by this time, and we have always bought a cut tree for our home here. I was busy running a daycare in our home, and we had opted not to clutter up our small house with a tree for too many days, because my daycare kids played all around the house, and I had babies and toddlers and didn't want to worry about anyone pulling down the tree, besides our own kids. So we waited until December 22 or so, and went looking for a tree on a Friday evening, I think. We had supper at my parents' place, then headed over to the hardware store where they sold cheap trees. Sold out. No problem, let's go to a tree lot. Sold out. Now we were frantic. We had children crying in the back seat, because they were afraid we would not get a Christmas tree this year. We still had the artificial tree from the apartment, tucked under our stairs, but we really wanted a real tree. We found a place with trees, but they were expensive and they had trunks the size of elephant legs that would not fit our tree stand. Finally, somewhere, we found a tree. It cost $35, which was a lot at the time, and Andy had to hack and whittle the trunk to make it fit the stand, but we got our tree. PHEW. I learned that year to buy our tree at least a week before Christmas.

3. The Mom and Daughter Tree
Fiona was 6 or 7 years old. Andy was working a lot of overtime on the weekends. I was working full time again. Alex must have been 9 or 10. Fiona was in a show out at a theatre in Port Coquitlam, so I was driving back and forth evenings and weekends to get her to her performances. We just did not have time to go out as a family and get a tree. One Saturday about a week before Christmas, Fiona and I decided to get the tree between her matinee and evening shows. We drove to Rona, where they sold cheap trees, and chose a tree. I had never picked out a tree without Andy, so I was a bit nervous about bringing it home on top of the car. The man at Rona said he couldn't help us tie the tree on the car because of liability, but he gave us as much string as we wanted. Fiona and I rolled down the car windows (we had no roof rack), and tied the string around and under and through the car and the tree, probably more times than necessary. When we tried to get back into the car, we discovered we had tied all but one door shut! So we climbed into the car through the backseat and drove home. The tree did not fall off. That year I learned to open the car doors, not just the windows, when you tie a tree onto your car roof with string.

4. The Sad Tree
The Christmas of the big snow, 2008, Andy and Fiona went to IKEA to buy a tree. They had a deal there where you buy a tree for $20, then bring it back after Christmas for a $20 store coupon. Such a deal! I was skeptical, but I know IKEA sometimes does amazing things. Andy and Fiona brought back a frozen shut tree. We put it in the stand. Over the next 24 hours, the tree slowly opened out. It was a horrible tree. Many of the branches had no needles at all, and the rest of the branches began to drop their needles profusely as soon as they thawed. Every time I looked at that tree it looked worse. Andy and Fiona kept saying things like, "If we put ornaments and lights on, it will be okay." But I couldn't stand it. I told them that tree made me feel sad and we had to get a new tree. So I drove out myself to Art Knapps and got a nice tree. The sad IKEA tree went out to the front garden, where Andy planted it in a mound of snow, and decorated it with outdoor lights. It looked okay out there. I learned that Christmas that it's okay to to insist on something decent and not to accept a sad Christmas tree. I also remembered to open the doors when I tied the replacement tree to the top of my car.

So those are our most memorable Christmas trees. I can't wait to see what we get this year. We will go out 11 days before Christmas. We will buy a tree that is not frozen, we will tie it to the car the correct way, and we will enjoy the peace and nourishment of decorating it and relaxing with it in our warm and cozy home.

question: what's your most memorable tree?

mompoet - remembering

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