Tuesday, 20 December 2016

KID KLASSICS: DO YOU KNOW HOW CHRISTMAS TREES ARE GROWN?


My living-room at Christmas some years ago

Omade, even?  In the case of the one I brought down from my
loft a fortnight ago, it's made of bristle 'branches' entwined by wire at-
tached to a wooden 'stem', from which the branches unfold to display the
tree to best effect - only to be folded back against the stem when it's time
for it to return to the loft for another year.  At least, that was the process
originally.  However, the wire is now far too frail to withstand continual
bending (and has been for many a year), so is simply covered with a
bag before being returned to its accustomed place in the attic.

The tree is older than me and has graced every house I've ever lived
in.  However, over a quarter of a century ago, some of the branches were
missing, having snapped off over its vast lifespan when the wire had become
fatigued past the point of flexibility.  Also, some of the little red beads at the
end of each branch had become detached and were long lost to the shadows
of many a Christmas past.  Then, one day, while walking past an OXFAM
shop, I espied my tree's twin in the window.  I soon acquired it, and then
used it to replace the missing branches and beads on my own tree.

Standing back to admire the results of my restoration work some
time later, my eyes fell upon the sorry remnants of the cannibalised tree
which I had so heartlessly lured to its doom, and I was suddenly consumed
by an overwhelming sense of guilt.  The tree had trusted me, had accompa-
nied me willingly, believing itself welcomed into the bosom of a new family
whose Christmases it would happily share every year from that point on -
only to be ripped apart and cast aside upon arrival in its new home.  I felt
like a murderer.  So eager had I been to restore my old tree, I'd hardly
considered the act of cruelty I was inflicting upon its doppelganger.

Oo-er - the dog's up on the settee again

It could not be - it should not be - it would not be!  What could I
do however, to reverse my thoughtless act of wanton vandalism on the
innocent tree and redeem myself, not only in my own eyes, but those of
the grieving Spirits of Christmases past, present and future?  A future now
seemingly denied the tree I had plundered for spare parts.  Then I noticed
something about the base of the tree, which, in all ways but one, was the
double of the other, and hope rose in my now remorseful heart.

Both bases were portions of logs into which the tree-stems were
sunk.  The logs had then been painted red with gold highlights applied
in places over the bark.  However, although each tree was the same size
(or had been until my 'surgical' intervention), the 'new' base was a fair bit
thinner and therefore seemed, compared to its 'twin', out of proportion
to its height.  Had the tree been smaller, it would have been a much
better match for its base.

A close-up of 'Junior'

That was the answer.  I would use the remnants of the ruined tree to
build a smaller one more in keeping with the size of its base.  I carefully
'operated' on the leftover branches, making sure that each tier reduced in
length from the bottom up, so that the natural fir tree shape was maintained.
The original stem had splintered when I had removed the branches for trans-
planting into my first tree, so I bought a replacement pole from a D.I.Y. shop,
wood-stained it, carefully drilled holes at regular intervals to accommodate
the surviving customised branches - and hey, presto - one mini-Christmas
tree, approximately half the size of its original dimensions and looking
for all the world as if it had always been that way!

Every Christmas since (approximately 28 or 29), both trees have
shared Yuletide duties in my living-room, the original in the front half and
'Junior' on top of the TV in the back half - each with their own set of lights
to pierce the descending darkness of December late-afternoons.  And thus
shall it ever be until my last Christmas on earth - and if they should survive
my passing, some kindly stranger, perhaps seeing them in a charity shop
window, will take them both home to brighten the Christmases of a
new family for many a long year to come.

"God bless us, every one!"

7 comments:

paul Mcscotty said...

I just bought a small (10 inches high) new "live" tree in Asda this year (I binned my old 5 year old tree a few years ago) and will plant it in the garden after Christmas is over ( I was told if II keep it in a smaller pot it won’t grow to high which I aim to do as I just spend over £700 3 months ago to get 2 trees cut down and 3 trimmed). I’m not much for Christmas decorations I have a few less traditional ones in my house (a blue Santa (?), 2 cute polar bears a couple of wee elf dolls and cotton hearts that hang from the door handles and 2 tin gingerbread people ) and that’s about it (I like it “sparse”) but surprisingly it looks quit “Christmassy” (not as festive as your house though) but all my decorations are pretty new.

Colin Jones said...

Before discovering this blog I thought I was the only person who attributed feelings to inanimate objects :D My only festive illuminations come from tealights - I have a rather unusual-looking tealight holder which is round, about the size of a grapefruit and flat on the bottom to stop it rolling over but you can't notice the flat bottom by looking at it. There's an indentation in the top where you put the tealight and it looks really nice when lit. I only burn tealights in the period from Guy Fawkes Night to New Year's Eve - my rule is that the last one must be burned before midnight on New Year's Eve and the tealight holder put back in the cupboard before the start of the New Year.

Kid said...

Bragging about your 10 incher, eh, PM? You're incorrigible. Mine's about 4 feet, but as we all know, size isn't everything. It takes me ages to put up the decorations, and I still have loads of others that I haven't the space to display - for which I feel incredibly guilty. (Poor thing waiting patiently in their boxes, wondering when they'll get a chance to 'stretch their legs'.) It takes me even longer to pack everything away again, but it's worth it to see the living-room looking so Christmassy. Don't know how I'll manage it all when I'm older 'though.

******

THB is another one who attributes feelings to inanimate object, CJ. We'd probably be surprised to learn that it's more common than we imagine. (Only amongst nutters of course.) Now I'll have to Google what tealights are. I've probably been mishearing the word as 'treelights' for years.

Philip Crawley said...

Great Christmas story, and like the best of them for this time of year - it has a happy ending. I think that for those of us who are collectors of figures and models it's not too much of a stretch to have empathy for other manufactured items - such as your tree. Christmas is one of my favorite times of the year. Bit of a pain to drag the tree out, string up the lights and arrange and apply the decorations, especially on the weekend when you just want to relax and unwind after the working week; but it is worth it when you sit back and admire all of the glitter and twinkling lights come the evening.

Kid said...

Originally, after plundering the tree, I was about to throw it out, PC. However, as I gathered the pieces, it suddenly hit me how callous I was being. I'm glad I redeemed myself somewhat by 'customising' the remnants and restoring them to 'treehood' in their own right. Smaller indeed, but just as important to the Christmas atmosphere in my house that it once lent itself to in others. I always feel a bit sad when I have to put everything away in the loft again, there to sleep (unseen but not forgotten) until the next Christmas. I'm convinced they all look forward to it.

moonmando said...

I think I'm being a bit of a heretic this year....,I've not put a tree up!
Don't think Santa will be calling on my doorstep this Christmas.

Kid said...

No tree? Burn the heretic at the stake, my brethren. (What's that? There's no tree to make a stake from? Bah, foiled!)

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