Joanna here, and again we're talking Christmas trees. Yesterday's post was about the many Wench trees of Christmas. Today's post is about my own trees of Christmas past.
Most often, in fact, it's been 'make do with what you can get'.
I remember the Christmas tree of cut-and-taped construction paper in London. That was that year they flew me in to take up work on December 24. (And sent all my luggage, including the presents, off to spend the holidays who knows where.)
In Germany … Oh, they do Christmas trees with flair and vigor in Germany, that being more or less where the whole Christmas Tree idea comes from. I bought my trees from the Boy Scouts, who were very kind about putting them on top of the car. I bought hand-carved and painted decorations in the Christmas Market. I still have some of those. And I followed the local custom of buying the tree just a day or two before Christmas.
I like that idea of the tree being special for the day. I still put up and decorate my tree just ahead of the Solstice.
In Paris we bought small trees. Chic urban trees. Trees you could balance precariously on the top of your wheelie shopping cart and roll home through the streets, up and down curbs and stairs. Apartment-sized trees. Trees from the town Marché, only a little larger than the huge bouquets of flowers everyone was carting around pour présenter and sold by the same deft and flattering young men.
Nigeria was to Christmas trees utterly unknown. I mean, conifers are a concept pretty much alien to the equatorial ecosystem. So we had a 'Christmas branch'. We'd swipe a fringy palm leaf from the nearest scrub brush area. This would arch in an un-Christmas-tree-like way but was pretty and satisfying unless you have the unshakable conviction that Christmas trees are supposed to stand up straight . The way you do it is you put long strings on the baubles and let them hang down at artistically satisfying lengths.
In the beach market I bought lovely carved angels about two inches high made from the wood of the local thorn trees.
Saudi Arabia was a bit of a challenge, since the sale of Christmas trees was officially forbidden. The garden shops, however, just happened to do a roaring business in potted evergreen landscape shrubs at that time of the year. The proprietor would show us to the selection way out behind the potting sheds. We'd drive around back to discreetly load up our landscape spruce in the jeep and toss a tarp over it on the way home.
Here in the US, I've sometimes bought living trees. I'd dig a hole — or get one of the kids to dig a hole — in September or October. Then pick out some baby evergreen, celebrate it for the holidays, and then plant it in the ground after the holidays. Very satisfying.
If I was feeling less proactive I'd take my handsaw and wander up into the woods, of which we have quite a wide selection in this part of the country, and collect a nice little conifer. Best place is some construction site, one jump ahead of the bulldozers. I would think of it as pre-recycling.
And this year, it's been a rosemary Christmas. I bought a rosemary bush and celebrated with tiny trimmings. The smell is wonderful. Just wonderful.
What's your very favorite life-affirming plant for the winter season?