In the second of our Six Days of Christmas posts, Entice author Sarah Bilston shares the magic of choosing a Christmas tree . . .
I live in Connecticut now, which is the land of white Christmases.
My husband and I have three children and every year, around the middle of December, we take them on a daytrip to cut down our Christmas tree. There are many Christmas tree farms in rural Connecticut, but our favourite is the one that serves hot apple cider and chocolate chip cookies. They also have a large red tractor with a trailer behind, the joy of any small child, and they’ll pull you through the acres of white landscape in search of that one, perfect tree.
We hunt Frasier Firs, so that narrows it down a bit. Frasier Firs have widely-spaced needles, making them the best choice if you have a German husband, for whom Christmas is inextricably linked to memories of real candles twinkling through sap-smelling branches (buckets of water and wet towels stand ready, but still, don’t tell our local fire department). Our Christmas tree will be hung with Kringels, chocolates and hard sweet candies suspended with red wool, and we serve marzipan cakes and sing Christmas Carols in German. Or at least, my husband and the children sing, and I hum along.
Our tree is usually about twelve feet tall and it takes a good hour for us to find it, kids tripping over the old tree stumps poking out through the snow. We assess every Frasier Fir from every side, considering the shape of the branches as well as the height and width of the tree. A bump-in on one side is actually a good thing – the tree’ll hug the wall better, once we get it home.
Inevitably, family disputes break out over which tree to take: the kids and my husband want the biggest one, I always cavil – how will we get it home? How will we get it in through the front door? When peace breaks out, and the tree is chosen at last, my husband lies down on his side in the snow with the large, slightly-rusty, farm-supplied saw in one hand, stretches out under the branches, and hacks away steadily, releasing the rich, amber scent of the sap. It is always, I think, a rather sad moment. The tree shakes, and sighs, releasing its snow. The children squeal. We stand back. And then slowly, the tree resigns its grip on the earth, dropping to the ground in a mighty thud (we all, of course, scream out ‘timber.’ How often do you get to do that?).
We drag the corpse, as a family, to the nearest path. And then we wait. Eventually the tractor chugs back and picks us, and it, up. Then the farmers bail the tree in twine while we snuggle into our coats and drink hot cider, and the children shyly check out all the other children doing the same thing. I always think the tree won’t fit in the back of the car safely – and it never does, but we get it back somehow, releasing clouds of needles behind us as we drive it home.
Bed Rest by Sarah Bilston is available in ebook from Entice now.