Monday Morning Musings

Posted on December 6, 2021 under Monday Morning Musings with no comments yet

Eat your heart out, Charlie Brown


“Oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree,

How lovely are your branches,

Oh Christmas tree, of Christmas tree,

How lovely are your branches,

Not only green in summer’s heat,

But also winter’s snow and sleet,

Oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree,

 How lovely are your branches.”

O Tannenbaum – Ernst Anschutz

The frenzy to find the perfect Christmas tree in every village, hamlet, town, and city in Canada has begun in earnest.

Well, almost every place.

Surely most of my faithful readers remember a simpler time, when you bundled up and followed your parents into the woods to find a Christmas tree. There were no Christmas tree farms but rather vast tracts of forests where one had unfettered access to thousands of trees. Now these trees weren’t always perfectly shaped and nurtured to the point of perfection. There is no such thing as a perfect Christmas tree. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

When I sat down on the weekend to write this post, I was going to take the easy way out and mail it in. On December 7, 2013, I published a story about the trials and tribulations of taking four small children to find and cut down a Christmas tree. I have republished this story every year since then and I thought about doing the same this year. Here it is in case you’re interested: But on one of my walks a few weeks ago, I spotted something very unusual and decided to write a fresh piece.

There are many things that ratchet up the blood pressure at Christmas but securing the right tree and finding the perfect gift would be near the top of most people’s list. Over the years, the “must have” gift for a child could have been a Ken or Barbie doll; an Easy Bake Oven; Care Bears; Transformers or My Little Pony. In my memory one stands out above all: Cabbage Patch Dolls. These arrived on the scene in 1983 and mercifully, our first born was only 8 months old and hadn’t been afflicted with CPD fever. Such was the frenzy to have one of these cuties, that trauma units in hospitals across the world were flooded with battered and bruised parents who were stampeded trying to get into a store having a limited supply of the dolls.

Buying a Christmas tree these days has become somewhat less onerous. It’s almost clinical. You simply go to a Christmas tree vendor parked in a mall parking lot. Choose from 1000 trees. The vendor will wrap it up and tie it to the roof of your vehicle. I’m sure you can even order one online from Amazon.

But what if you live north of the 55th parallel? Well north, in fact? When flying to the north of Quebec, the last trees you are likely to see are near Kuujuaq, the capital of Nunavik. Kangiqsujuaq is another 435 kilometers further north, not fertile ground for growing balsam fir trees.

Back to my walk of a few weeks ago. A handful of us were doing a Saturday walk. We decided to drive part of the way and park the truck. But before starting the walk, I took a small detour to show the dump to our newest staff member, Charles. We warned him about the perils of walking this road alone in winter. Occasionally, polar bears and wolves scavenge the dump for treats. Pity if you should become their lunch. Just across the road from the entrance to the dump, our heads turned in unison as we spotted a small, real Christmas tree.

I can report with total honesty that none of us had been consuming alcohol or illicit drugs at the time.

This got me to thinking.

Naming your first born is not as difficult as finding the perfect Christmas tree. Oh sure, it’s fine when you can go to a lot and sample 300 trees but what if you only had one from which to choose? This tree could qualify as the most beautiful or most ugly tree and everything in between. Now, in a village of 1000 people, your odds of acquiring this tree would be 1 in 1000. These odds are infinitely better than the 649 but unlike the 649, no one takes it personally when Joe Schmoe from Temiskaming, Ontario wins the big one. However, if you were the only one who had the pleasure of decorating a real tree at Christmas, I think the milk of human kindness would sour very quickly. I’m picturing a bidding war to end all bidding wars. If you think that buying real estate in Toronto in a hot market is competitive, how about standing at the entrance to the dump when it’s -25 vying for this truly unique, one of a kind buying opportunity?

However, having tested my marriage vows on many occasions picking out a Christmas tree, this would be simple. There would be no debate about its height, shape or fullness.

I remember one Christmas after the children had flown the nest, where we went to a convenience store parking lot to get a tree very close to Christmas Day.  (Yes, you locals. It was Brendan’s). Don’t ask me why we waited so late. Maybe we were so traumatized from shopping for trees for 25 years, that it didn’t even occur to us to get a tree.  The vendor had long since left the lot and gone home to his loved ones. Before he left, he posted a small sign indicating that the remaining inventory was free.

There were three trees on the lot… just enough to fight over! I can’t remember if we played rocks, paper, scissors or flipped a coin but we threw the scraggly evergreen, coniferous tree into the trunk of our car. Once decorated, it looked like every other tree we had ever put up.

Oh ,Christmas tree.

Have a great week.

P.S. I know what I want to do when I grow up. I want to be transported back in time and be a writer for Monty Python. Can you imagine how much fun it would have been to have been sitting around a table coming up with the most absurd scripts imaginable? My dream job.



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