Cedar Christmas Tree
Holiday traditions cling like ivy.
As a youth, come mid-December,
I went hunting for a cedar tree with Dad.
We trekked across tan, sage grass fields,
December-drab pastures, or maybe drove
a mile or two into nearby woods
in his ’49 Chevy to find a suitable
dark green specimen about six feet tall,
not so misshapen it couldn’t be trimmed
to some semblance of conical symmetry.
We hauled it home, square-cut the trunk,
made a stand of two crossed boards
nailed to the bottom.
Whacked off a stray branch or two,
whittled the top to take a star.
Sister and I, like bubbly little elves,
helped Mother string tinsel,
spiral one or two strands
of large multi-colored lights,
drape silver-foil icicles on the scratchy
branches, and hang assorted ornaments.
I’d climb a chair to place a star on the tip-top
and presto, we had a Christmas tree.
Presents soon sprouted around its base.
A green tree is a centuries-old emblem
of strength to endure winter, long-time icon
of hope and life, now my symbol
of Christmas and family celebrations.
Its strong aroma wafted through our house
like incense— deeply imprinted in memory.
Now, our fireproof, artificial tree glows
bright green, stands like a perfect pyramid,
stows like a doll in its tall box in the attic
and doesn’t tweak anyone’s allergies.
But it’s missing the strong, sweet smell of cedar
that takes me back home again.
Image credit: Image appears in the article “Finding the true meaning of Christmas in the woods” by David McGrath [Cap Times News, December 25, 2019].