Sunday, November 27, 2022

O' Christmas Tree!

Describe your best holiday memory.

Brenda starting off the week.

I've got so many lovely memories linked to Christmas that it's difficult to pick just one. However, some of my favourite recollections have to do with the Christmas tree.

I grew up in Terrace Bay, a small Northwestern Ontario town -- 2000 people -- nine miles from the next town to the west and 60 miles to the next town in the east. We were surrounded by woods and water, the town built on a glacial terrace a distance above the shores of Lake Superior. 

A few weeks before Christmas every year, we'd set out, often in caravan-formation with another family in their own car, and drive aways down the highway until somebody decided to pull over. We'd all then begin combing through the woods, looking for the perfect tree. This could take hours and I remember being very cold on occasion. Dad would also pick out three trees for the front yard (he called the three wise guys), and these would be lit up with multicolour outdoor lights. I should add that there was nowhere to buy a tree and nobody, but nobody, had an artificial one. 

Dad dragging the tree to the car after we pose for a photo

Me (age 13) with our new puppy in front of the 'Three wise guys'

Jump ahead to my married life in Ottawa. When our two girls were younger, we would pile into my husband's truck and drive out of the city to a tree farm where Ted and I would troop through the 'woods' to find the perfect tree. We'd bring along some magic carpets or a toboggan for the girls to slide down the slope nearer to the entrance while we carried on our search. Not nearly as wild as going into the deep woods of my childhood, but these aren't available in the populated south. On the way home, we'd stop in one of the villages to have hot chocolate at the Bide A Wee restaurant. We looked forward to this outing every year, and it really was a highlight of the season.

Now, Ted drives to a local farmers' market and buys a tree that I decorate with ornaments that we've collected over our lifetimes. I have a few from my own childhood and ones that our daughters made. Many come from friends whom I think of each time I pull an ornament out of its box. We place the same angel on top even though she's lost her halo, and every year I suggest buying a star topper, and every year Ted vetoes the idea. We string only blue lights on the tree, a nod to my indoor childhood Christmas trees.

We've periodically talked about getting an artificial tree, but so far, neither of us has had the heart to forego on the real deal. The smell of the conifer tree filling our house brings back so many memories, and we're loathe to give this up. I should add that we recycle the tree at the end of the season, something that doesn't happen when an artificial one gets tossed. So, this year, again, our real-tree tradition will continue ...

Last year's tree


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Dietrich Kalteis said...

Thanks Brenda. Your post brought back my own memories of going to the woods for that just-right tree. Here's to the perfect one for this year.

Brenda Chapman said...

Thanks Dietrich - a toast to family traditions!

Anonymous said...

One of MY favourite memories of the Christmases you and I both shared with our brother Steve were the elaborate Christmas pageants we three would perform every Christmas Eve in front of a roaring .fire in the livingroom fire place, the audience our parents and then in later years an older couple friends of the family. Most memorable was our production of “Scrooge” complete with all parts played by the three of us and elaborate costumes for each role……man, it used to get quite hot acting in front of that fire!!

Brenda Chapman said...

Hey sis! I actually have a pic of that Scrooge production that I will send to you. Those really were fun times and weren't we talented?!

Susan C Shea said...

Last year’s tree was so beautifully decorated, Brenda, and easier than your descriptions of going into the deep woods as a child,

Brenda Chapman said...

Thanks Susan - buying a tree doesn't make the same memories as chopping one out in the real woods, but it is a lot easier for sure!

Anonymous said...

Lovely to read those memories, Brenda, as we did much the same thing. My family has continued to go into the bush around Thunder Bay to cut our trees & I am still using the lights & decorations from the 1950’s. Every year I complain about all the work & say “That’s the end” & by the time the next year comes around I’ve forgotten all the work & am right in there planning the tree cutting - spruce or balsam? Lita Boudreau