O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree
Christmas is not really about the tree. It’s about the people that surround the tree – and “home” is wherever you feel loved.
O Christmas Tree, O Christmas tree,
How lovely are your branches!
In beauty green will always grow
Through summer sun and winter snow.
O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree,
How lovely are your branches!
As I sit and reminisce about the variety of Christmas trees that have crossed our many thresholds over the years, I find my eyes growing misty with memory.
Come along with me as I lead you on sentimental journey. Let’s travel back in time while I share a haphazard chronology of the annual May Family Christmas tree.
Year: 1982 Location: Our first apartment – pre-children
Our miniature plastic tree is adequately adorned with twelve red bows and is gracing our coffee table. It is all we can afford and it is all we need.
Years: 1983-1987 Location: Our first small house – one baby and one toddler
This tiny home witnesses the arrival of two boys. My husband Darrel makes an annual trip to the neighbourhood gas station to pick up a twine-wrapped tree. Decorations consist of paper plate ornaments with globs of glitter, candy canes with glued-on googly eyes , reindeer made from clothespins, and cones with pipe-cleaner handles.
Year: 1988-1992 Location: Our first large house – two small boys
We indulge in a suburban tradition and we drive up north to the Extravaganza Christmas Tree Farm. We feast on treats around a huge bonfire – hot cider and decadent shortbread. We stand in a long line so that Ryan and Codey can enjoy a slow ride in a small cart being pulled by a large dog. I tour the enormous gift shop and feel compelled to purchase several seasonal (though unnecessary) items. As we prepare to depart, we realize that we’ve forgotten to purchase a tree from the wondrous tree display. We weigh the pros and cons of the 22 available varieties and eventually choose a favourite. We drive homeward. We are full of the Christmas spirit; however, our wallets are empty. This Christmas tree experience has cost us a total of $243.78.
1992 to 2005 Location: A rustic century home near Mansfield Ontario – two growing boys, one golden retriever, and one cat
We discover that rural families do not generally buy trees from the local gas station. They do not go to the Extravaganza Christmas Tree Farm. We learn that tree shopping is a full-day event—involving a drive to a small local tree farm. A toboggan (containing two laughing boys and a barking golden retriever) is pulled by father Darrel to the farthest tree in the field. We choose and chop our own glorious tree. Victorious and buoyant, we enjoy hot chocolate and sugar cookies in a tiny hut. This rosy-cheeked scenario becomes our family tradition for the next several years.
2005-2008 Location: A brick bungalow on four acres in the Town of Mono – two teenagers, two golden retrievers, two cats, one rabbit – and a partridge in a pear tree…
The annual Christmas tree hunt has lost its magic. The kids are more concerned about what is under the tree than how it is acquired and adorned. The Christmas tree purchase becomes one more chore.
I delegate the annual tree purchase to 17-year-old Codey. With all of the goodwill I can muster, I hand him $50 and insist that he leave the house and return with a tree. I busy myself with cleaning and cooking and a trip into town. I return, laden with parcels, and Codey calls me into the living room to show me the May Family Christmas Tree. It is truly a sight to behold – completely decorated – resplendent with tiny sparking lights, complete with a large silver star perfectly perched upon the highest bow. I am speechless. Somewhere I can hear a choir singing. My heart is filled with Christmas joy!
The joy quickly dissipates when (days later) we notice an oddly mutilated tree in our yard. We discover that Codey did not actually purchase our magical tree. The truth is that he retrieved a ladder and a bucksaw from the garage and proceeded to saw the top from a 20-foot blue spruce – one that had been planted as part of a professional landscaping plan. It turns out he pocketed the 50 bucks!
2009-2012 Location: Empty nest in the Town of Mono One old golden retriever, one crazy cat
The Family is home for Christmas. A singing, dancing, ho-ho-ho-ing, life-sized Santa replaces the traditional evergreen tree. Santa is amusing and jolly for the first 15 minutes. His festive yet fake voice slowly becomes a source of irritation. His gyrating hips and flailing arms begin to annoy us. Echoes of “shut that thing off” and “pull the plug” fill the room.
2013 Location: Town of Mono – one old golden retriever, one crazy cat, and one “No-No Bad Dog” golden lab
A plastic tree with 12 red bows adorns our coffee table. It would seem that the evolution of the May Family Christmas Tree has come full circle – except the reason for the no-fuss tree is because this Christmas the entire extended family will be spending Christmas day in Costa Rica. This will be the first Christmas we have not been “home” for the holidays. Our family will gather around a palm tree, or perhaps a fig, mango or almond tree. But, most importantly, we will be together.
I hope you have enjoyed coming on this little trip down memory lane with me. When you think about it, Christmas is not really about the tree. It’s about the people that surround the tree – and “home” is wherever you feel loved.
May your tree be surrounded with special people and may your home be filled with happiness this holiday season.
I wish you all a Merry Christmas, from the May house to your house.
Do you have a Christmas Tree story to share?