Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Oh, Christmas tree!

Choosing a Christmas tree is, for our family, something of a ritual. For me, the  sunny, summer's day when we head off to the farm to find the perfect pine tree, marks the start of Christmas. In one of the gullies at the farm, there is a swarm of self-seeded pines. There's always a lot of negotiation about the size of the tree. Bruce and the girls go for the largest-tree-we-can-get-away-with. I go for the tree-that-might-just-fit-in-the room.

Too small, says Harris

not convinced.....

Oh yes, maybe it's big enough!
Last year it was just the four of us out on the tree-finding expedition. The year before we had our big kids with us - Eddie, Rose and Anna.

Choosing the tree is always a time to play a little at the farm, as Anna's beautiful photos attest:

And then, when everyone is ready, we drag the tree across the paddocks, tie it precariously onto the car, and then sweat (literally) over the decorations.

This year our tree finding expedition has been a little different. Bruce and I left Rose and the girls at home, to follow the signs to a place selling Christmas trees off Mt Philo Road. We thought there would be a heap of cut Christmas trees to choose from. Instead, there was just an empty garage and a saw. We walked (in our jackets and scarves and gloves and hats) up a hillside into a field of perfectly shaped snow-covered spruce trees. As we walked, deep in the snow, I fitted my steps into Bruce's tracks and hummed Good King Wenceslas. 

 We found the perfect tree (a spruce - a real Christmas tree!) and Bruce set to with the saw.

 On the way home,we stopped at Mt Philo to admire the frozen world.

 When we got back the girls had been busy having a different kind of fun.

Meet Charlie - our first real snowman!

He sits outside our front window and peers in at the decorations.

So, as Christmas nears, we are already feeling in our bones the difference in this Christmas. The days are short, snow drifts down each day out of a clear sky (how is that?), houses everywhere are lit up in the evenings with candles in every window and decorations in the trees. Playing In the bleak mid-winter on the CD player suddenly seems appropriate. Turkey and roast potatoes and Christmas pudding make sense. Even my children, who have grown up with a New Zealand Christmas, breathe out a sense that this is a REAL Christmas. We feel deeply the family and friends we're missing and wish they could be with us. I miss All Saints' Lessons and Carols. But, despite all that, this is a special time. It may be the only white Christmas we ever experience. And it's....well, it's magic.

ps on a quite different note (though I'm thinking While shepherds watched their flocks by night takes on a whole new meaning), I mentioned before that I would take a photograph of the Guard Camel in the snow. Here he is, still taking his responsibilities seriously in a very unusual environment for a camel!

1 comment:

  1. The camel might be feeling quite at home: these kinds of camels live in central Asia. According to Planet Earth, camels in Mongolia endure temperatures as low as -50 degrees Celsius, and get their water from constantly nibbling snow.

    At school when I was a kid we used to like changing the words of While shepherds watched their flocks by night, If I remember right, our version was
    'While shepherds washed their socks by night
    All seated round the tub
    The angel of the lord came down
    And showed them how to scrub.'

    Happy Christmas!