My folks, rather bravely I think, came up from their home in the the Florida of Canada, the Okanagan Valley, for the holidays. I’ve been so very excited to see them and they arrived today. My mom did send a text en route, from the Edmonton airport, telling me my dad had decided to go to Cancun instead, as he hates the cold, but in the end, he came too. It seems like all the other travelers today were going to Cancun, not north to Yellowknife. How strange. It was a rather inauspicious arrival for them – we couldn’t make it to the airport to meet them. The truck would not start in the – 30 weather. So they had to take a taxi. My mom just laughed when I phoned to tell her. “Perfect”, she said. “What a wonderful story”. And the great thing is, she meant it.
Today was also the day we went out to get our Christmas tree. We haven’t had a chance to get it before today, so we decided to wait until my folks arrived so they could enjoy it too. Well, maybe not enjoy, exactly, but at least be there. When we were cross country skiing earlier this week we saw a smallish tree with more branches than normal quite near by – just across the lake from our place. The trees here are spindly and thin, but we only have a narrow spot for it in any case. I never spend much time looking for the perfect tree, and this year was no exception – it was the second one we saw, on the edge of the lake. But it’s the right height and as I say, more than the average number of branches. Perfect!
My parents were game, so after putting on all the clothes they brought, plus our fancy parkas, face masks, warmest boots, hot shots, and our new cold weather gloves – (fit for Everest or an Arctic expedition according to the label – a trip to cut down a Christmas tree in Yellowknife is a kind of pseudo-expedition, and we are sub-Arctic, so its nearly the same thing, I’m sure. As soon as I saw those gloves in the store I had to have them. And they are wonderful!)
We walked across the lake – well, more of a waddle really – I imagine that is what two year old Canadian children in winter feel like, all bundled up in their snowsuits so they can hardly move. It was a fairly short walk in a beautiful fading light. It was quick work to saw down the small tree. And then the best part of all – our dog Kona brought it home by sleigh! I was planning and hoping that he would pull the sled, but as he’s never done it before, I wasn’t at all sure. He was quite good at it really, and oh so cute in his little red boots. (The boots are meant to keep the snow from balling up between his toe pads. It’s a work in progress.)
Back at home, we had a bit of trouble getting the tree to stay straight and tall in the stand. During this time husband Martin was suggesting we should have an artificial tree. Yes, I said, then I could write a post on my blog about how we went to Canadian Tire, purchased a tree with our credit card, and brought it home in the back of the truck. How interesting! How romantic! Over my dead body!
For me a Christmas tree is not about having a perfect tree, a color coordinated tree, or a convenient tree. Its about the experience, the process of selecting a tree, always with a loved one, usually growing wild and in the forest, (usually a Charlie Brown tree, but whatever!) and then decorating it. I’ve had many of my decorations for years and years, many of them given to me. The collection of antique balls that were my Grandma’s. The ball my aunt Mona made me, with a pansy from my Grandad’s garden. The crocheted snowflakes from my other Grandma. The gifts from friends and room mates from medical school days. The hand made tatted snowflakes from a doctor colleague in northern BC. The mini yak bell I brought from a lovely old woman along a lonely trail in the Everest region in Nepal – because I was pretty sure she wasn’t going to get any other customers that day. The mini mukluks a nurse gave me last year from the Arctic, when we both worked Christmas day in Nelson. At that time I never imagined I’d be having a Christmas in Yellowknife. All these stories, all these people – a lifetime’s worth. And they are all here in Yellowknife with me. This is the spirit of Christmas. So as long as I live, as long as I celebrate Christmas, I’ll have a real tree, and as long as I can walk, I’ll be cutting it down from the forest myself.
Merry Christmas everyone! Wishing you all a holiday season filled with love and the creation of new memories, to keep you warm for a lifetime. With much love from sub-Arctic Yellowknife.