Last weekend, we got our tree. We like to get it early so we get our money’s worth.
I set it up in the stand and filled the bowl with water while my youngest jumped up and down on the sofa, yelling directions: “Stand her up!” “Feed it lotsa water, mama!”
“It looks like a giant furry beast, doesn’t it?” I asked her.
“A friendly one. Like Where The Wild Things Are.”
“Yeah,” I agreed. “Exactly!”
“She wanted to come in our house to get warm.”
“Just wait until we dress her up. She’ll look so pretty.”
“She’ll look like a big happy hairy princess.” My girl helped me knock off the dead needles with a broom. “I’m petting her! She likes it!”
I know it costs more than I should spend, but there’s nothing like a fresh-cut tree. For me, the tree is what it’s all about. That piney scent of sap triggers old memories, memories so deep and dark they don’t even feel like they belong to me, of walking through darkness over crunchy snow and a big moon framed by furry boughs. I remember Robert Frost’s poem and going through the wardrobe and taking a sleigh ride under an ermine throw with turkish delight; I think of Grendel standing outside, cold and hungry, and I imagine ballerinas dancing under a sky filled with powdered sugar.
That smell is the essence of cold and green and I wish I could drink it– if I could, it would probably taste just like Greek Mastiha and warm me like gratitude and I’d be able to stand barefoot in the snow with nothing but needles to keep me warm. I’d stand there all winter, happy, silent, and still, watching stars shoot like sparklers and the buttery moon roll along.
We are entertaining a wild thing for the month of December. Winter has invaded our home and taken our imaginations hostage.
What’s the thing about the holidays you like best? Or the thing you’d gladly do without?