Trimming the Christmas tree at our house is a literal undertaking. As a pup,Baboo was a champion chewer. He inspired the “tree on a stick” look. Even though he’s well past his days of lopping off pillow corners and shredding Christmas ornaments, we’re still doing it because it’s also a good space saver at times.
And so the ceremony began last week with a tree laid across a couple of big planters on the patio outside the kitchen window; my husband bundled up and ready with a pruning saw and myself inside available to give the signal. A thumbs up means cut higher and remove another layer of branches. Every year, without fail, when the pile of cut branches mounds to a certain height, he ignores me and comes to the back door to holler up the stairs that it’s too much. Just one more layer I insist. I won’t go into what that hand signal looks like.
I crave the smell of winter and the woods. When that fragrance comes through the door it signals the festive season has arrived at our house. While the tree thaws I unpack the ornaments. It’s like seeing a group of old friends again. It’s a quirky, eclectic bunch with good stories and memories that expand and evolve over time.
I believe anything that can fit on the branches without toppling the tree can work as a decoration. When I was in a more dedicated retro collectiing phase I used to hang all sorts of stuff including vintage beaded purses and gilded picture frames. Charlie Brown style trees were choice. Gaps and holes between branches accommodated my odd bot finds perfectly. When my interests moved into the world of fiber, our tree followed suit. I’ve hooked, knitted, felted and crocheted my way into the the season. I give many of my hand made ornaments away to guests like a zealous zucchini grower happy to share the bounty. Last year, Mum and I were on a roll knitting little mittens. This year I tried my hand at a few crocheted balls.In the midst of an earlier knitting fever, I covered the bare tree trunk with a colorful cozy. It’s become a mainstay along with things like a set of small crocheted figures from my childhood Christmases. My sister coveted them too so part of her Christmas tradition is to give me a hard time for absconding them before she did. It’s all in good fun, but she’s still not getting them! When I hung a new ceramic owl I picked up from a recent maker’s market, I was already thinking how it would fit into an eye spy game my young nieces invented around all the different art and doodads in our house. Yup, there’s going to be a”find the owl”round when they come over next week.
When you’re a kid it’s all about what’s under the tree. As you get older you realize the real gifts are the things that surround the tree. The rituals, memories, passions,and connections to who you love and what you care about. I love setting up the tree because it brings the spirit of all those things close for the season. Life shapes the tree, and the gatherings around it shape our life.