Ah the tree, that delightful seasonal symbol. Deck the roundabouts and wrap the palm trees, it’s Christmas time on the island.
Pondering the tree had me researching the history of this fine tradition. Apparently two towns vie for being the town with the first trees. Tallinn, Estonia, in 1441 and Riga, Latvia, in 1510 claim that honour. In both places, the trees were put up by the Brotherhood of Blackheads, which was an association of local unmarried merchants, ship owners and foreigners in the towns. Little is known about either tree except that they were put in the town square, were danced around by the Brotherhood of Blackheads and were then set on fire.
Very interesting. Sounds somehow familiar. When we plug the tree in, we might say we set it on fire — quite gloriously on fire, as with the magnificent tree at Camana Bay. When I listened to the national choir sing last month and watched that 38-foot beauty burst into light, I too felt like dancing around the town square.
I’ve never had a Christmas without a tree. The fresh scent of pine or spruce in the house mingled with cinnamon and nutmeg — in a glass of eggnog — brings back fond memories. There have been times, however, when I wished I’d chosen an artificial tree and a pine scented car freshener for the house. The eggnog could stay.
I recall the Christmas that resulted in the decision for an artificial tree. It started with the attempt to find a real tree that had a straight trunk, unlike the previous year’s real tree that kept falling over due to a very crooked trunk. But sometimes we just don’t learn. Our new tree, too, had a crooked trunk. When the tree stand didn’t actually make the tree stand, the kids rallied with scraps of wood, rocks, pieces of a wooden puzzle that they found in the toy box, and two pieces of bamboo — no idea where those came from. Just to be sure, two fishing hooks and some fishing line were attached to the air vent conveniently situated above the tree. We sang some carols, had some eggnog and vacuumed up a lot of pine needles.
Next day the tree was on its side and the fish hooks appeared to have flown up the air vent, so we propped it against the wall. It didn’t look half bad like that. More carols sung, many needles vacuumed, more eggnog.
Day three dawned with husband Greg dissatisfied with a leaning tree, and after lengthy discussion, duct tape was used to tape lower branches to the (inaptly named) tree stand. On day four, the tree, again horizontal, was propped up and many, many nails were driven through the stand into the tree trunk, duct tape discarded, and more rocks added. Carol or two hummed, vacuum cleaner now broken, and tree redecorated with remaining unbroken decorations.
Christmas arrived with us singing “Hark! The Naked Conifer” as it leaned against the wall. We bought the artificial one for a discount on Boxing Day.
Faye Lippitt is the author of “16 Chickens on a Trampoline” and the children’s book, “The Great Caribbean Chicken Caper.”