Since my husband and I live in a smaller apartment in Calgary we don’t have room for a large Christmas tree. Instead, we have a tiny artificial one that we hang lights on and a few decorations that will suffice for now. Still, I can’t help but remember the “grand” trees my family put up during the festive season in Nova Scotia.
Grand doesn’t connote beautiful or even nice. To me, the grandness of our tree came from how we festooned it with holiday trimmings from years gone past and adorned it with a mixture of handmade and store bought items. Grandness means how we picked it to have the place of honour in our home.
Living in the country we had tons of firs to choose from to chop down. But we never did find a tree on our own land. My mother would stay home to keep our wood stove burning while me, my father and two sisters drove up the road about 10 minutes to a neighbour’s to tromp through his property. One winter there was lots of snow and we hiked up to our knees looking for the perfect tree.
We never could find the unblemished, lush and full, fit for a king one. Trees were either too tall or too small or too wide or too narrow. My father and I would always feel sorry for the uglier trees, the ones who had a few branches sticking out here and there and not much else. My sisters always wanted the prettier trees, the ones that were shaped most like a Christmas tree and the best choice out of the bunch. Often we went with something in between.
Once the tree was hewed we put it on the toboggan and dragged it from its forest home and into ours. Once it was standing tall and proud in the living room the lights were hung on it. That was me and my dad’s job. Forget the posh all white lights, we’re an inclusive all-colours family. Then came the decorations.
We all had a hand in hanging the ornaments. My sisters and I each have our own box of decorations containing Christmas crafts we made back in elementary school. One of my chef d’oeuvre is a white cardboard stocking wrapped in green and red yarn. The glue has come off after many, many years and it looks nothing like a wool sock now. Still, this youthful expression of a Christmas craft still hung on the poor tree like a masterpiece. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.