the tree comes up the bank

John and Forrest just cut this year’s Christmas tree. Instead of going up the mountain for one, or cutting one from the roadside (we get a permit for this), John spotted a nice one down the bank in front of our house. We don’t bring our tree into the house until the morning of Christmas Eve. We decorate it during the day, with cups of hot cider and baked treats to accompany the work. Every ornament has a story and part of the fun is remembering where each came from — the paper trees cut from wallpaper samples and decorated with macaroni and glitter (kindergarten projects), the Japanese paper lanterns sent to John’s family by his grandmother in England, the glass stars made by June Malaka, the clay fish and bears, pine cones shaped into Santas … I love coming downstairs on Christmas morning to the smell of Douglas fir (I know balsam firs smell heavenly but they are few and far between in the woods near us) and the surprise of the tree dressed in its finery. I’ve just found the little book I like to keep at hand this time of year, Little Tree by e.e. cummings, for the beauty of its illustrations and its tender lines:

look   the spangles

that sleep all the year in a dark box

dreaming of being taken out and allowed to shine

. . .

put up your little arms

and i’ll give them all to you to hold

every finger shall have its ring

and there won’t be a single place dark or unhappy


If you are reading this, I wish you a wonderful and peaceful holiday season, full of warmth and joy, and maybe the scent of Douglas fir, of cinnamon sticks in hot cider, a shortbread tree, a star.


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