if i count back the years on just one hand it puts us at a moment when we were living on an old ten-acre herb farm on a nearby island, right about the time when we were looking to the solstice and longing for a tree. only, that year, as with the previous one, i was awaiting surgery for an ovarian tumour. so, my little family went out on their own to a farm nearby, dug up this little tree, planted it in a pot, and brought it home to me, to be our little tannenbaum. o, potted tree, o, potted tree.
i cannot say that i am particularly skilled at tending to a tree in a pot, but this one has patiently tolerated an annual trimming with lights and ornaments every solstice. i dare say it will enjoy retiring after this final season of stardom for a life in the woods-like corner of the garden, to put down roots once more and lead a quiet existence of sinking carbon and transpiring water.
in fact, we have celebrated winter with a tiny potted tree from when our eldest was born, at the turn of the century, as it were. it feels like a lifetime ago, in a world with very different priorities, but this ritual looks to have been prescient. seeing as we lived with family who already had the traditional large cut tree, it seemed like a simple resolution.
the living tree likes to be outside, so we only bring it near the hearth for a few nights, after first setting it out here on the porch for all to admire it, charlie-brownish or not. we trim it with lights, then antique glass baubles after a while, then handmade ornaments on the longest night.
it seems to me a fine symbol of the future i want to see, when planting trees is one of our greatest gifts. if we gather around the tree together, if what we place with joyous benevolence under a little living tree is life-affirming, if the tree itself gives life, i think we may have a celebration i can revere.