Thursday, December 17, 2009

O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!

FINALLY!!! We've had a break in the weather. Tues-
day evening the temperature began to edge upward. In Alberta we are treated to several "Chinooks" during the winter. A Chinook is a warm wind from B.C. The wind climbs the Rockies, and as it descends on this eastern side, becomes warm air. A Chinook is signified by an easily recognizable cloud arch. I'll take a picture when I can. So first you see the arch in the sky, and a bit later the wind begins to blow. It can be fierce! Anything not tied down will blow away. I've lost the Christmas wreath off the back door many times, only to find it in the evergreens beside the driveway.

This week's Chinook was not like that; it was a gentle warming from -38 to +5C, without the wild winds. By Wednesday afternoon it was mild enough for Jim to take our Christmas tree, which had been resting in a pot by the back door, into the greenhouse to let some of the snow burden melt off. Yesterday we took it into the house to finish the warming and put it into the Christmas tree stand. Last night I decorated it in a very simple manner: just some coloured lights, some snowflakes made of plastic looking like ice, candy canes and hand crocheted snowflakes, all different, which I made some years ago.

I like to vary the way the tree is decorated from year to year, and we're both pleased with how it turned out this year. Here's a close up that shows some individual decorations. The glassy looking flake at the central lower edge is one of the "icicles" made of plastic. My good friend M. gave me several one year. They came from a gift shop in Rosebud, just like the plate I gave her this year. Then I bought some more when we were there, so now we have a dozen. They reflect the light beautifully.

Our Christmas trees come from our own little nursery, which Jim started maybe eight years ago. We have a triangle of land south of the greenhouses which he's planted with spruce, pine and a few other species. In the fall we have a fellow with a tree moving truck come from Red Deer and put about 25 trees into great big pots for sale the following season. He usually moves several other trees to M and L's, or to another customer in town. This year one of the trees just kept falling over in the pot. It was just too big for the pot, so that tree was earmarked for us to use at Christmas. We think it's a really nice, full little tree.

The litany you hear wherever you go now is, "Are you ready for Christmas?" What people really mean is, "Have you bought and wrapped all the presents you feel obligated to give this year?"

Decades ago, when the kids were little, we decided to opt out of that particular pressure. They were a little taken aback when we told them there would be no more presents at Christmas. But we sweetened the sentence by adding that at some time during the year without any special occasion, they would receive a nice present. When they were a little older, I made it a special occasion, taking out each one alone for a special evening with Mom. Jim stayed home with the rest of the family, and the special child for the evening went out for a restaurant meal and little shopping trip with Mom. We would buy something that we'd never consider otherwise. For instance, one year I bought Daughter #2 a bathing suit (a bikini for a teen) for $80. Never would have done that ordinarily, but it was sure fun for both of us!

I hope the kids, all now grown ups, have pleasant memories, in spite of being deprived of the annual Christmas present bash.

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