Monday, December 27, 2010

Fake tree

Many years ago, I deplored the loss of millions of young trees, to be cut down and displayed for a couple of weeks before being tossed out. Couldn't we just eliminate this somewhat dated symbol of the season?.

We had some friends who developed a small Christmas tree farm. It was a useful tax shelter for them. I also realized that sales of Christmas trees gave employment to many, and often resulted in income for various "good causes", so I relaxed about it. Every year, Barbara and I would go down to buy a Christmas tree, usually from Home Depot. We would somehow load it onto the car, drive home, and then mount it in a reusable stand designed for that purpose.

It was a tradition for some 20 years for our eldest granddaughter (Justine) to help Barbara decorate the tree. We placed the stand on an old sheet, to collect fallen needles, and minimize the work when it became time to clean up.

I always felt that the Christmas tree should not be in place until Christmas Eve, because it was "still Advent". Barbara's plan was to put it up about ten days before Christmas. So I agreed to a compromise: It could go up that early, as long as it stayed in place until Twelfth Night, when it could be taken down, and the unbroken decorations could be put away for another year.

Now that I am not so mobile, Barbara went down with our driver and brought back a small tree. When I saw it, I almost choked, and spluttered "That's a fake tree!".

I am still not completely reconciled to this deception. Where is the delightful smell of pine leaves? Somewhere, out there in the world, there's a tree which is being cut down and will just be put out with the trash. That tree was really destined for our house.

Oh, well; I must admit there are some advantages to the use of a fake. It is (of course) perfectly shaped. It doesn't shed any needles. It can be brought out again next year. Packages can be placed under the tree just as easily as if it were real. Also, I am determined to be more tolerant when Barbara wants to take it down before Twelfth Night.

I am reminded of the time, many years ago, when we brought into the house a somewhat mangy looking live Christmas tree. When the time came, we planted it in our front yard, for use the following year. Over the months, it didn't exactly seem to flourish. No matter: we didn't want it to become too large. But it was so ugly!

One day, Barbara asked our wonderful Japanese gardener (George Y. Sujishi) what he could do to help it along. "Christmas tree?", said George, "I make 'im Bonsai!".

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