The tree makes the season complete for me. During the years we lived in southern Spain without a proper winter, or at least the kind of winters I was accustomed to, and without a tree, I always felt something was missing come Christmas and the winter holidays.
Since we moved to Baldy Hill, a fresh-cut tree is a winter treat both James and I look forward to, although we don’t rush out immediately after finishing the Thanksgiving pumpkin pie to find our tree. Rather, we wait until much closer to the solstice and the 25th because our tree is not just meant for Christmas but for as much of winter as we can keep the fir happy. Last year, it lasted until almost March.
As much as I love the closed-in intimacy of winter, the gray cold skies of later January and February can be dispiriting, and therefore the extra soft light, the brightly colored baubles that also double as a personal biography — the ornament I made with my grandmother from an old Christmas card and some toothpicks, the ceramic Corn Palace I picked up while traveling cross-country with a former flame during my twenties, the glittery cardboard angels from my mother, the vintage glass balls I now favor and collect — they inspire me through this period of reflection, bring light to the darkness.
So we choose carefully, looking for a strong sturdy tree that can give us the support we need to sustain us through much of winter, before we turn it over to the birds, who use it as shelter after we move the tired pine outdoors for its own rest.