Taking Down the Tree

Taking down the Christmas tree
seemed especially hard for me
this year.
Every ornament brought back
memories – sweet and dear –
as I wrapped them up (both
the ornaments and the memories)
and packed them in the Christmas sack.

Ornaments Mom left me after she passed.
Ornaments from former students in my class.
Ornaments our sons made of pop-sickle sticks
and glitter, macaroni and beads.

I felt the loss.

And I know. I know. I know.
I know all the things you want to say:
I know that Good is never really gone-
It’s here to stay
It lives on –
in our memories. I know Love never ends –
and I should be grateful for all the family,
all the friends,
all the love I’ve known in my life.

But as I take down the tree
I’m missing you especially.
-Karen Molenaar Terrell

Christmas Lights

The Christmas Tree’s Final Decoration

Like last year, this year I did not want to kill any trees. I just don’t have it in me anymore. So, like last year, Scott cut off an extra trunk growing on our redwood in the back field. Scott said we were actually saving the redwood by cutting off the extra trunk because if a wind came it would split that baby right down to the nubs. This tree has character. Or maybe… this tree IS a character… It fits right in with the family.

Hold on… I think I’ll go put some Groucho glasses on it…

O Christmas Tree!

I took down the Christmas tree today – removed layers of ribbon, gauze, sparkle, and nostalgia.  The sparkle and gauze are easy to take off. But taking down the sons’ grade school popsickle creations, the ornaments my students have given me through the years, and the Christmas tree decorations that we bought on family trips and adventures – those are harder for me to wrap up and stow away for another year.

Our tree was really beautiful this year – a Turkish fir that we cut down at the local tree farm. On the day we cut it down, I promised that little tree that I would plant the seeds from its one cone and try to nurture its offspring. into fine sturdy evergreens.  I planted the seeds in a pot a few days later. I tried to find information on the best way to plant Turkish fir seeds, but couldn’t find anything.  I’m really hoping I’ll see little seedlings sprouting up next spring, though.

Years ago, when one of our sons was maybe six or seven, he started crying when we cut down a tree for Christmas. He was really angry that we’d cut down a perfectly fine tree for no other reason than to drag it into our house and decorate it.  We saw his point, and for a few years bought living trees in pots that we later replanted in the backyard. The problem with that, though, was that the living trees were always pretty small, and we had to make sure they didn’t dry out in the house. After the living trees we put up an an artificial tree for a few years. What was cool about the artificial tree was that we could bend its wire branches to keep the ornaments on it. But… well… it was a fake tree. It didn’t smell like an evergreen – it smelled like fire repellent. It didn’t bring life into the house, it brought man-made chemicals.  After we’d had it a few years, it was looking pretty tattered and bedraggled, and the husband and I decided it was time to go back to real trees.

Our annual sacrificial evergreen always has a place of honor in the house. We decorate it and make it sparkle, and appreciate the beauty it brings into our home.

And this year I’m going to do what I can to keep our Turkish fir’s offspring growing. It’s the least I can do, right?

christmas tree 2015

How lovely are thy branches…

“There’s nothing more beautiful than a tree,” Alain Le Goff liked to say…

“Look how they’re working …They’re linking the earth to the tree and sunsetsky. That’s very difficult, son. The sky is so lightweight that it’s always at the point of taking off. If there were no trees, it would bid us farewell …You can see that the trunk of a tree is a thick rope. Sometimes there are knots inside. The strands of the rope work themselves loose at each end so that they can fasten onto the sky and the earth. At the top they’re called branches, and at the bottom, roots. But it comes to the same thing.”– Pierre-Jakez Helias, Horse of Pride

I love trees. They give us shade, shelter, and oxygen. They hold the soil to the hillside, fruit on their branches, and our tire swings above the ground.

When I was a little girl I walked home from school by a property that had a line  of little fir trees which were left, unplanted and drying up, next to dusty holes that someone had dug for them. The trees seemed to have been forgotten and abandoned. My heart went out to them. I plucked one of the little firs up and brought it home to Mom. Mom tried to explain that those trees belonged to someone, but it did not compute – it was obvious to me that those trees deserved a better care-giver than the person who had left them, with their little roots drying up in the open air. Mom must have realized that if that tree was going to survive it needed to be planted post haste – so she found me a planter big enough to accommodate a tree’s roots, and provided a home for “Treesa” (the name I gave her). When we moved several years later, we brought Treesa with us and planted her on our new property, where she lived, grew, and prospered. (Treesa’s sister trees – the other little firs that had been waiting with her to be planted the day I walked past them – never did get planted, and didn’t make it.)

Every year a little fir tree on the path along Bellingham Bay slowly begins accumulating Christmas decorations on its branches. Why this particular tree was picked to be the path’s annual Christmas tree, I do not know. But she’s a very jaunty little tree, and it brings me great joy to contribute to her Christmas finery, and to see her all gussied-up for Christmas.

Christmas tree 2

“For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.” – Isaiah 55: 12

“And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.” – Psalms 1: 3

green Padden         winter trees in upstate NY 600 year-old tree in Deception Pass, WA      Adirondack winter trees (2) autumn trees            Bellingham tree autumn trees            Padden trees    boy in tree


all photos by Karen Molenaar Terrell

Share this: