Oh Christmas Tree

Oh Christmas Tree

My quest for Christmas tree began with a visit to the chamber of holiday secrets under the stairs in the Christmas crypt. The thought of hauling out the Christmas tree box, standing the monolith up on its end and manoeuvring it up the stairs made me think of the difficulties the druids must have faced when constructing Stonehenge. Although I wasn’t planning a winter solstice celebration, I was considering starting my own winter ritual; the hunt for a real Christmas tree.

That was five years ago. My fear of being crushed by a fake Christmas tree prompted my family and I to drive to a tree farm near Québec City Jean Lesage International Airport. Upon our arrival, a sturdy saw was thrust in my hands and a snowmobile steed stood at the ready to tow us into the bush. When our treaded stead could go no further, we hiked through knee-deep powdered snow that had a top layer as crunchy as gingerbread. We dashed from tree to tree debating the merits of each conifer until we found the right one. Although I don’t like tools that can sever body parts, I readied the toothy blade and assumed my patriarchal duty as feller of forest trees. The poem “Morte d’Arthur” by Lord Tennyson was on my lips:

There drew he forth the brand Excalibur,
And o’er him, drawing it, the winter moon,
Brightening the skirts of a long cloud, ran forth
And sparkled keen with frost against the hilt:
For all the haft twinkled with diamond sparks,
Myriads of topaz-lights, and jacinth-work
Of subtlest jewellery.

“C’mon Dad, just cut the tree already!” And that, of course, is just what I did. It was a Christmas card kind of a day.

Unfortunately, that tree farm wasn’t open this year. Luckily, we own a very handsome fake fir tree. You remember that tree in the cumbersome cardboard box I mentioned earlier? It’s very convenient; you can leave off half of the branches and push the tree against a wall to save space. You don’t have to water it, clean up fallen needles or salvage quasi-priceless-been-in-the-family-for-generations ornaments after your less than symmetrical tree decides to topple over. “But Dad, what about the quest? What about Excalibur, the enchanted hand saw?”

I decided to visit the LesPAC website and found someone selling trees in Saint-Nicholas (the coincidence did not escape me). We hopped in the car, crossed the Quebec Bridge and found ourselves in a quiet residential neighbourhood. I thought we were going to find someone cutting down trees on his front lawn and selling them to passers-by. It turned out that the trees had been harvested from a rural property and were being sold at a reasonable price. We paid ten dollars for our ten- footer. I even got to use the owner’s chainsaw to shave off a couple feet so we could fit the tree in our car and stand it up at home. I couldn’t think of poem that included the whirring of a chainsaw blade or flying chunks of wood that threatened the future use of my left eye, so the kids were spared another recital. We wrapped our bargain of boughs in an old sleeping bag and stretched it out in the car.

Even as we sat squeezed against our respective doors for the ride home, we were proud of our family Christmas adventure. Perhaps it came closer to the movie Christmas Vacation than it did to It’s a Wonderful Life, but the important thing to remember is that even though I couldn’t use the rear view mirror or check my blind spots, we were all there, together for the holidays and fearing for our lives. Isn’t that what Christmas is all about?

Categories: Opinion

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