Originally I was planning on buying our Christmas tree at one of the many cut-your-own places around Victoria. However I managed to find one on our property in the Gulf Islands, and this weekend I will be cutting it down. Our property is at the very end of a narrow inlet at the north end of Thetis Island, so protected by a cliff and by forested contours of the Island that the powerful southeast wind that has been battering us for the last few days would barely raise a ripple on the water.
The tree is a fir, about twenty feet tall. My wife, Joan and I had been traipsing around for a while, and it had just started one of those December rains when we found it. For a wild tree it is unusually dense, and you can see it will easily support strings of lights and decorations. It will stand on the corner of the deck outside, facing the water. Over Christmas, all other human habitations on the inlet will either be empty or hidden, and at night when the rest of the house is dark this tree will be a blaze in the emptiness. We will have a few very young children with us, and I believe that this tree is likely to be the largest and most brilliant one the children will get close to this year.
Young children’s eyes during these moments say many things. They sense that the whole experience is wonderful and good. They also ask inside themselves, and possibly might voice it: what does it all mean? In a good world – it doesn’t have to be a perfect one – that wonder will recur every year, as it does for me, and the question will recur, as it does for me, the answer growing larger and developing its own branches Christmas after Christmas.
I wish everyone the happiest season.