The Christmas season is filled with traditions. Some center around the spiritual message of the holiday, while others are cultural customs we remember fondly as children, and carry on for the next generation, such as stockings on the mantle and Christmas lights.
But there can also be traditions with much more recent origins. Christmas rituals which are chosen by the family, after a few years can develop into established practices.
One such tradition started several years ago, on New Years day. For us, this was the customary time to take down the decorations. There was always a bit of sadness associated with this task. I was on my way to the compost pile with the Christmas tree, which had been recently stripped of its ornaments. I though what a shame it was to throw away such a nice looking tree, so instead I propped the tree against some alders in my back yard where we could see it from the house. We continued to enjoy it for several months until it started to turn brown.
We have carried on this practice every year since then.
Last year, however, the tree not only lasted through January, February and March, it continued to look good into April and May. In all this time I never gave it any special attention. I was amazed at how long it had gone without drying up. On April 20th, I went out to take a closer look. I was surprised to find that only a few needles had fallen to the ground, and the tree looked almost as good as the day we cut it down.
At that point, I thought back to when we picked out the tree. For us, this was another tradition we always looked forward to. We would drive up into the hills. Some years there was snow on the ground, but even if there wasn’t, we were always bundled up to fend off the chill which hung in the air.
The process of picking out the tree usually took about an hour of traipsing through the woods, maybe longer if there were snowballs to throw. Once the “perfect” tree was found, we cut it down and tied it to the top of the car. Before we headed home, we would always visit the petting zoo, which included reindeer, warm ourselves by the wood stove and enjoys some free hot chocolate which was provides at the tree farm.
Coming out of my daydream, I took a closer look at the remarkably preserved tree that had sat for over five months out in our back yard. Then I spotted something astonishing. Among the deep green branches of the Douglas fir there were several small areas of new light green growth.