The Family Christmas Tree

2014-12-16 19.49.48Tonight Kim and I went to the South Edmonton Kiwanis Christmas Tree Lot and got our real tree. It was great to chat with Donna and the two MacEwan CKI members who were working this evening.

This year is special, for although, during the past dozen or so years that we have been volunteering and selling Christmas trees, this is the first time we have had one ourselves. You see, where we lived before, the rental company did not allow live Christmas trees in their units. We are both, Kim particularly, quite excited.

Now the tree is up, fully watered and getting familiar with its surroundings. Thursday evening will come the decorating as per my family tradition where Mum and Dad had the tree up for twelve days of Christmas.

It has been a great many years, for one reason or another, since I have had what I would consider to be a traditional Christmas.

There are a number of things that I distinctly remember about Christmas from when I was a young lad living just east of Edmonton.  We had a property of five acres, three of which were wooded, overlooking the North Saskatchewan River.

As Christmas approached we would go out, as a family, looking for a suitable tree which would occupy a corner of our large dining room.  Now this would be a large tree, seeing as how our dining room had a twelve foot ceiling.  We would eventually see one that satisfied Mum, since she was the prime decider in such matters.

The tree that Dad would chop down was normally about thirty feet tall.  We would then take the top eleven feet or so and a number of the boughs from the rest of the trunk for decoration around the house.  The remainder would be left until summer, when we would return and transport the by-now dried wood back to the house for use in the fireplace during the following year.

The decoration of the tree, and the house, was also a family event, complete with Christmas carols on the phonograph, hot chocolate and delicious snacks, like ginger snaps, chocolate chip cookies or butter tarts, all homemade of course.  Many of the decorations as well were homemade, or at least handmade, including those made from bristol board or construction paper.  Quite often friends and neighbours would drop by as well.

We had quite a large house, and each year we would also have a smaller, much smaller, tree downstairs for the kids.

When my children were young we had much the same tradition for getting and decorating the tree.  Sometimes we were able to cut down our own tree as there was a few local Christmas tree farms, but usually it was a family trip to the Christmas tree lot to select one.

Times have changed over the years, it makes a great deal of environmental sense to buy a properly farmed Christmas tree, however some of the places offering trees leave something to be desired.  That is one of the reasons I, and so many other people, so enjoy working at the Kiwanis Christmas tree lot.  We get to interact with the families when they come in, year after year, generation after generation, to get their trees and support the work that Kiwanis does for children.

Sometimes, the more things change, the more they stay the same.  The concept of a family outing to get the family Christmas tree, and a family event to decorate it, and the inside of the house, remain to this day in many families, and that is a part of what Christmas is all about.

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