Sunday, December 18, 2011


We might get an artificial tree next year. That’s what we’re saying now, listening to the words we are saying, trying to figure out whether we mean them.
It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas. In the corner of our living room stands a tree so fragrant that Mark and Tracey can smell it through the crack under the door to their upstairs apartment. It’s a tree with character, wide, embracing, flattish on top, shaved at bottom. Skinny branches extend their curving needle fingers to clutch at the bounty of treasures accumulated over the decades. Last night’s dinner guests said: “what a lovely tree, so full, not a single bare spot.”
The 2011 tree is everything an artificial tree will never be—difficult to handle, original, quirky. David acquired it at a Food Bank fund-raising event on Churchill Square. He asked them for a tall one, not realizing that he was making the choice to take home a tree that required the carrying strength of Hercules with a trunk that only a logger could love. He might have asked for a different tree, had it been a Thursday evening, or a Saturday afternoon. But that is not how it was. He had got it in the true Christmas spirit, in a sleepy haze at 5:30 AM on a Friday morning at the end of a week of working long hours of day and evening due to the commitment required during City Budget time. He had gone to get it at the earliest possible moment so that he’d be home in time to help Lawrence get his car into the repair shop before work.
All day, bottom in a pail of water, the tree languished stiffly in the garage, limbs imprisoned in string, silently wondering how we’d find a stand to hold it. “We might get an artificial tree next year,” we said, locking the doors behind us, hoping time would bring wisdom.
It takes a family to manage such a tree. Friday evening became an impromptu guys’ night out for Lawrence and David. After a period of experimentation resulting in the sacrifice of a dozen branches and approximately 10 billion long needles, they went shopping, came home with an electric reciprocating saw, and wrestled the trunk into submission.
Mark and Tracey loaned us their tree stand. It’s a bit more secure than ours for such a heavy tree. And we thought maybe we shouldn’t bother to get a new tree stand for ourselves, just in case we meant it when we said we might get an artificial tree next year.

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