Every year we cut down a tree. I love everything about it: the adventure of selecting a tree, the company of friends, different crazy memories that it brings, and of course, the sweet smell of pine that fills the room for days.
Where ever Christmas finds me, I manage to cut down a tree, and have had many ‘tree’ adventures cutting down trees with family and friends in Tanzania, Kenya, USA, UK, Australia and New Zealand.
There are so many great memories surrounding this tradition and am I happy to say that I have never once had a ‘fake’ Christmas tree in my house. This year was no exception.
Mum and Dad waited until we got here (Arusha, Tanzania) to begin the Christmas festivities, and that included the cutting of the tree…
There was however, something very different about this years tree, and that was how we cut it down.
There are two giant fur pines in our garden. They were grown from seedlings and used many years ago as Christmas trees in pots in our house, when they out grew the pot stage, we planted them in the garden to be allowed to reach the sky, as trees should.
Before we arrived, Dad said that we were going to cut down one of the trees from our garden. I had no idea he meant one of these giants, and, not the whole tree, just the top half.
This year, we had to climb our tree to cut it down.
=) Well, when I say we I mean Matt, but I felt very much part of the experience.
We stood at the bottom and looked up, up, up. It was so high and hidden in scrub that I strained my neck to see the top.
“What do you mean we aren’t cutting down the whole thing?” I asked.
“Your Dad said I should just climb up there and cut down the top” said Matt.
“Umm. Ok. How are you going to get the saw up there?” I said.
“I’ll just tie this string to my ankle, climb up, then you can tie it on when I’m up the tree” Matt replied.
And so it began.
He climbed up through the scrub, scrambling over spindly twig like branches (that looked as if they would snap any second). There was lots of grunting and scraped up arms and legs, unacknowledged by Matt. He is a very tough kiwi bushman this husband of mine. “Ok, you can tie the saw on” he said, as he reached a limb high above ground.
I tied it on, and it swung through the air. Sawing began. Dad appeared and we talked through the logistics of getting the top of the tree down without breaking it, or Matt.
We watched, a few minutes later there was a giant CRACK, and the whole tree shook like a metronome. DOWN the top fell. Matt clung to the trunk to avoid being flung from this newly created catapult. I was a little nervous. Everything went still again, and he slid back down the tree.
Covered in sweat, dust, and leaves, there stood the tree cutter, official hero of the hour, and fortunately un-maimed by tree or saw. (Neither Dad or Matt had been worried about this, but I have an over active imagination, and the WHOLE time he was up there they discussed various tree loping accidents involving injury or death…really!?!)
Unfortunately, the tree did not fare quite so well. The top had snapped in its fall. But, with a little ingenuity, some rope, and a splint, we tied it back together and it is now standing proudly in our living room, giving off a glorious scent, and making everything feel Christmassy and beautiful.
We decorated it later that evening. I wrote:
I think of my sister, her husband and little boys, my brother, and his wife, and I miss them right now. I think of Matts family and wonder what they are doing, I think of Christmases that I will spend with them in the future, and of new memories that will be made.
I wonder if I will be home again for Christmas any time soon. I savour every minute and sing joyfully with my parents and Matt while we decorate the tree. I think of Jesus, his birth, and love celebrating the fact that he came, and the joy every little part of remembering this brings. I love that he gave us this season to celebrate, even if it wasn’t really with a tree, well, not a tree like this one, I love to remember, and am content. It is a beautiful tree, and another great story.
This year, we climbed up our tree to cut it down.
=) Haha! What fun!