Thursday, December 27, 2007

Tree tales

The wrinkled wrapping paper is piled on top of beer cans and flyers in the recycling bin.


My sister has piled her gifts into the trunk of her car, and hauled them over icy mountain passes, to return to the world of payrolls and grocery shopping.

The dishes that used to be full of tarts and cheeses are now reduced to carrying crumbs.

My head has already turned to more pragmatic matters such as scheduling.

But, to the right of me still stands the Christmas tree, draped with lights and childhood crafts made out of glue guns and pine cones. It reminds me that even though the 25th may have come and gone, I don't need to take my head out of the clouds just yet. There is plenty of time for worries and practicalities in the new year. 

***

Obtaining our Christmas tree often proves to be a bit of an adventure. The tradition since we moved to HomeTown has been to procure a license from the city to cut down a tree on Crown Land that falls beneath the power lines. This provides a nice compromise for my environmentally conscious family, who are against both the chemicals in fake trees and the unnecessary chopping down of real ones, as it means we are merely cutting down a tree that is soon to be cut by the city anyways.

This year was good for a few giggles, in that the area had been doused with a particularly heavy bout of wetter than usual snow.

This means that the godforsaken winter boots that were forced upon us in childhood, which my parents are quick to fish out of the enormous trunk of plaid scarves and single mittens, are pulled onto our feet, with our pants tucked into them.

Residents of the more snow-familiar areas also know that wet snow and cold nights mean the forming of a crust on top of the snow. While this crust may keep your feet from sinking too far into the white depths as you scamper down a snowbank to scope the perfect tree, it certainly will not as you attempt to haul said tree out of the snow bank. Each step led to several rounds of sinking, eventually to snow-levels nearing my hips, which is great fun when tenuously grasping a douglas fir. Even the mighty Sorel couldn't stop snow from gathering in every possible crevice.

However, in years past, my father and I have managed to narrowly escape more trouble than quicksand-like snow.

Recently, due to reduced time, both in terms of daylight and days until Christmas, Dad had the bright idea to raid the edge of local forested park, which was decorated by trees with outstretched branches nearly intermingling with electricity-infused wires.

While he saw it as a practical and responsible option, we realized that the average person may not necessarily see raiding trees from the park in the same way.

As such, we cut down our Christmas tree ninja style.

For those who aren't familiar with the ancient ninja art of tree cutting, it involves one person serving as the eyes of the operation, and the other as the sawer. It also involves skulking behind trees, parking a minivan in wooded areas, and propping up a chopped down tree to make it appear to still be standing tall if there is a little too much action on the road below.

However, nothing beats the year prior. Again, Dad and I had been delegated the tree chopping task, and decided to investigate a different route. We found a particularly lush area beneath the power lines, pulled over on a side road, and selected a suitable tree. As we had just finished chopping it down, and were in the process of strapping it to the van's roof with an array of bungee cords, a car appeared coming in our direction down the side road, and an angry looking man jumped out.

Turns out what we'd assumed was Crown Land was in fact his land.

Turns out Dad had never actually gotten a permit from the city this year, as we'd never been asked to provide one in the many years prior, and he had to apply both powerful bluffing and mediating skills to calm the man down.

However, after we extracted ourselves from the situation unscathed, we decided to make the most of the awkwardness. As such, we greeted my occasionally gullible mother not only with a freshly cut tree, but with tales of an angry farmer who took a swing at the van with his shovel, and of an ensuing car chase. Her reaction was nearly worth the conflict in the first place.

So Christmas trees mean a lot to me. They symbolize family rituals and hijinks, as well as childhood memories. And, in times where the real world threatens even my bubble in the mountains, it reminds me that it is okay for me to stay in my pajamas a little longer.

26 comments:

La said...

What a fantastic story! We've always had fake trees, and just once, the ritual of going and choosing our own and cutting it down would have been so much fun. Thanks for sharing!

Sheila said...

When you go through that much to get your tree, it really does make it special! I too am waxing in the laid-back feeling of the season as I am still in my PJ's!

Princess of the Universe said...

Pointful- that's the best Christmas story I've read this year! You really are an excellent writer!

Yoda said...

Wow, that's quite a lot of adventure to procure a Christmas tree! I'm sure it must be fun. Love the way you write!

Michelle said...

christmas tree thieves! ;)

lspoon said...

I'm in awe that you get your tree ala Christmas Vacation style!

eric1313 said...

Could be worse--I always though it would be hilarious to saw a tree off somebody's front lawn. Of course I wouldn't do that to a random stranger. Only somebody who really deserved it. ;)

It's better than stealing their car (My car's engine caught fire two nights before Christmas, so maybe I should be more practical...) or their girlfriend. Why did I type this? I have no idea...

You have a great new year, Princess. Talk to you soon.

nicoleantoinette said...

This post is equal parts hilarious and adorable.

Haha: "As such, we cut down our Christmas tree ninja style."

Airam said...

We had real trees for a time but never actually chopped them down ourselves. I went once to a tree farm (with another family) where we would scurry between trees to pick one out for their family. My parents use a fake tree. You've got a great ritual going on there! And it never lacks in humorous debacle so bonus!

Beth said...

You got the word "hijinks" in there!
Great Christmas tree tradition and yes, stay in those p.j's for as long as you can!

The Butterfly Bar said...

Clink!

Every Christmas has it's own story...

This one was perfect.

Crushed by Ingsoc said...

Crown land.
This a very interesting concept I'd never thought of before.

Interesting, because here every inch of land belongs to someone and disused land is a rarity. There are tiny portions of 'common' land (the land left unenclosed), but it's rare.

The idea that here, where the Crown is based, there IS NO Crown land (we hear the term in history, but it died out in the late 18th C), yet it is a feature of your lives, is certainly something of interest.

libby said...

that is hilarious!!
we've had a fake one for as long as i can remember...

Jocelyn said...

Ah, what a fun and ultimately restful post. We cut down our own trees, too, and it's invariably an adventure!

captain corky said...

I always wondered how Ninjas cut down their Christmas trees. Thanks to you now I know! ;)

A Lil' Irish Lass said...

I loved your opener to this post. Truly original and beautifully written.

Princess Extraordinaire said...

I love this story - Christmas is indeed a time to enoy and it doesn;t have to be over the second the clock hits 12:01 on teh 26th - revel in your carefree ways and enjoy!

Indiana James said...

I loved this story! It's kinda hard around the big city to chop a tree on crown land, but what I would have paid to see you telling your mom how you got this tree. Master Card moment. ha ha ha.

So goes the season, sorry for the absence but I've just done a massive catch up with your blog and wow. You've got a way with your story spinning abilities and it's fun to read.

Good thing in the end that your sister didn't go. Best not to think of the actual reason why and just hope that she "figured it out".

The whole friends and exes thing I get too... Thankfully there's never been a major issue. An ex and my best friend drunkenly made out once a couple of years before we went out but asides from that, no conflict, I don't think I'd deal too well. Seems like you've done ok with it.

Hope the time back home was relaxing. Merry belated Christmas and enjoy the rest of your holidays!

thestoryofagirl said...

Dude, I can't believe I was so freaked, and now it's all I can do to not just completely worship my ovaries for not becoming impregnated. Gah, being a girl can be SO STRESSFUL sometimes.

DG said...

I love that story! I hope you had a fantastic Christmas and have a great New Year hon! XOXO

Jamie said...

That is amazing!

Best story ever.

Ultra Toast Mosha God said...

This all sounds so picturesque. I went up in the loft and pulled down a green plastic jobbie. Took me 5 minutes.

Wouldn't look quite as good on a christmas card as yours..

Good mediation skills!

Crashdummie said...

All excuses to stay in your PJ longer are fine by me! Hope you have a wicked 2008, cuz you totally deserve it. Cheers.

Eve said...

Hahahaha. That sounds like a cartoon! Propping up the tree in the snow. Ha!

ana said...

yes it is okay to stay in your jammies. Helps to know I'm not the only one ruminating over things.

happy new year!

Ant said...

Ninja-style tree-chopping! Makes me giggle... :-)