While sitting in the specialists rooms, I really couldn’t help but notice the beautiful Christmas tree in the corner. It had tasteful lights and baubles that were permanently attached to it. Each needle was perfect, it was a green with a frosting on the tips of each branch, like it just came out of a northern forest. Beautiful, but this is Australia. I thought of my tree at home, a big artificial pine tree, with an Angel on the top, flashing lights, baubles, and lots of individual baubles for each of my children, one for each year of their lives. Lots and lots of hand-made decorations, the kids are embarrassed by them now, but when they were little and made them, of course each items was the pride of the tree. The love they put into making paper chains, reindeer out of foot and hand prints. The love of Christmas as a child.
When I was a child, we didn’t have an artificial tree, we had a casuarina tree. The fun of walking around in the bush with your brothers and sisters and friends from around the neighbourhood, walking and walking looking for the perfect tree to put in your house. Always a boy had the tomahawk for cutting it, I don’t know why, the girls weren’t trusted. When you found the perfect tree, you took it home and put it in an old bucket filled with sand and then it was put in the lounge room of the house. Lots of baubles and tinsel went on these trees, lots of home-made decorations and lots of love and laughter around the tree while decorating it. I am not going to romanticise this and say that there were no arguments, of course we had them. Who was to put the star on the tree? Who put that ugly thing on the tree? But over all it was a lot of fun, and it was so low brow compared to today.
While the artificial tree always looks good, it doesn’t shed. It is lacking something, its missing the smell of Christmas, the personality of the one perfect tree, the fallen needles in the carpet that don’t always disappear until the end of January. A tree, is one of the symbols of Christmas and I guess it’s a big one. I have had the trees of my childhood, cut trees from the Boy Scouts, the artificial beauty and a hat tree. The latter from when my immunity was really bad and I couldn’t have a tree, but I have a great hat tree, so without tinsel, baubles, glitter or anything, it became our Christmas tree.
Why do we need these wonderful perfect trees? Is it the ghost of Christmas past? Is it the loss of the ideal Christmas from our childhood? Or is it the mass media and consumerism of Christmas that makes us buy big and do silly things? I don’t know, but its nice to think about all those past Christmas holidays and hope that my kids have some great memories.