Crumbs From the Corner: Adventures in Woolgathering

Monday, November 5, 2007

Tree Trimming Service

I would rather sit on a pumpkin and have it all to myself, than be crowded on a velvet cushion.

-Henry David Thoreau

We did it. My Spouse and I put our Christmas tree up this weekend. We needed a little cheering up and it was the most effective and the cheapest way we could do so.
We have not had a Christmas tree in two years. My Spouse and I did not even see each other last Christmas so it was particularly wonderful to put up the tree early and set the lights a-twinkling. Most of our decorations came from friends over the years and so are quite meaningful.
My friend in California gave us a large number of them and I think fondly of her every time I bedeck the tree, not least because I hang her bear ornament on a branch and wince a little.
I visited her house many times when we lived in our delightful little town.
She referred often in conversations to her mysterious annual ritual of 'trimming the tree.'
It was mysterious because I was never able to make the event, sadly, until the very last Christmas we lived in that town. There was always something momentous I had to do, such as completing a semester at college and rushing through my final class exams or assignments.
That last Christmas, however, I was available, for various reasons. I was gladdened to be invited to her house where, along with her closest friends, we would trim the tree.
My friend has a lifetime- decades' worth- of decorations to hang which is why she makes a regular celebration of putting up her seven-feet-tall freshly cut Christmas tree. We sang merry Christmas tunes and had delicious food as we worked. We were awash with tales about every single item to be placed. Some baubles, she told us, were more than fifty years old. It was an honour to be there with her.
As I slid the glass balls and paper lanterns on the branches, however, I wondered silently why we were putting them on first before completing the tree.
The tree was gigantic and there must have been hundreds upon hundreds of fancy trinkets to be suspended.
After two hours, I could not contain my curiousity for a minute longer.
"When," I asked my friend quietly, "are we going to trim the tree?"
To my utmost horror, my friend started laughing. And laughing. She did not stop. I was beginning to be worried about her. I did not know what I had done.
When finally she caught her breath, she told me that trimming the tree simply meant decorating it. That was all. I had thought, since it was a genuine tree from a forest, that we would need to chop the branches or, well, trim it in some way.
My friend assures me that nowadays whenever she trims her tree, she thinks of me and starts to laugh. I think of her too when I garnish mine. We are far from her now and trimming her tree would be a very pleasant luxury.
I think we might just leave our tree standing permanently. It makes us very happy and it is being so much better used than lying prone in a cardboard box, propped in a shoe cupboard.

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