Monday, 14 December 2009

see amid the winter snow

Yesterday was my favourite day of the year. I love most days, especially those that involve friends and presents, fireworks or dancing, but the day I get to decorate the Christmas tree is the one I most enjoy. This will be our first Christmas in France and, as we're still novices in the art of tracking down our own tree, we joined a group of friends, tooled up with saws and axes, and headed up a snowy, rutted track, determination written across our faces. Wrapped in scarves, boots and wooly hats (Mark had carefully selected his lumber jack shirt for the occassion), breath pluming in the chill air, we tramped into the woods in search of 'the one'. Our friends Lou and Billy, seasoned Christmas tree hunters, gave us an insider tip - find a really tall tree, fell it then cut off the top 6ft. Once we'd reached the location where past experience had taught our friends that the right calibre of trees were to be found, we spread out, each of us with a mental picture of our quarry in our mind. Our friend Sally struck lucky first - a 5 footer for the living room and a pot plant size specimen for her 2 year old grand daughter to decorate. Billy and Lou were next with a magnificent 20 foot tree that was brought to ground and trimmed to size before having it's lower boughs hewn off to decorate the mantel piece and hearth. Having watched our friends in action we felt it was time to strike. Mark had found a beautiful tree - branches evenly spaced and a sturdy trunk. With a little help it was only a matter of minutes before the tree had succumbed and was being dragged through the forest back to our car. How is it that Christmas trees, whether felled in a forest or picked out at the local supermarket, always seem twice as big when you try and force them into your living room? Just another life mystery I suspect. Mark draped the lights across the tree before letting me loose with the decorations. Harry cat helped selected the baubles whilst I scrutinised the tree for spare twigs to dangle them from. After only 3 hours we were finished and stepped back to admire our work. After a day of Christmas tree-centric activity, the stillness that surrounded us as we stood regarding our tree was pure peace on earth.

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