Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Christmas trees and cribs

My Californian buddy, Skip, proclaimed that everybody has a Christmas tree story and went on to tell how he did the many thing and went into the forest to cut one down. You can read his story here. Well, there's no way I can top that but I do have just a weeny tale of a weeny tree.

It was when I was working in a bank at a branch in rural Sussex. The Number 2 on the staff lived on a smallholding where he allowed people to park their caravans over winter in a large barn and where he had a small Christmas tree plantation. He was quite a character, was Bill Hemmings. Totally unsuited to banking, really. There was a story how, when working at another branch, he had gone out to the market, bought a calf and put it in the bank strongroom until he was ready to load it into the back of his car and take it home! Possibly apocryphal; indeed, probably apocryphal but just the sort of thing I could see him doing.

But to get back to the real story. The Old Bat and I went out to Bill's one weekend and dug up a tiny tree, roots and all. After Christmas I planted it in the garden where it thrived. I dug it up and brought it indoors for several years after that but it eventually grew too tall and straggly for that and, in the end, it died. So it's back to buying a tree each year. I bought one last Friday and on Sunday afternoon the Old Bat decorated it.

She also put out one of our oldest Christmas decorations - a crib scene I bought in Holland many years ago. I had gone over with a party of Scouts to meet up with Dutch Scouts with whom we had established a sort of twinning arrangement. Looking round the shops in the Hague I saw this and it proved a big hit when I got it home.

I'm not sure that Joseph should really be holding a crook, but there you are.

It is reported in this morning's paper that the Norway fir, long the country's first choice as a Christmas tree, has rivals. The Canaan fir and Jacobs fir are, it seems, preferred by many as they are slimmer. (Our Norway fir stans about four feet tall and three feet wide.) Both the Canaan and the Jacobs are natives of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia. Some years ago, the Old Bat and I spent a holiday in Virginia (with side trips to Maryland, Washington DC and West Virginia) especially to travel the Skyline Drive. I was disappointed that it wasn't until we had turned back towards the airport and our return flight that I found, printed on a table place mat in a diner, a map showing the Trail of the Lonesome Pine which I would have liked to visit.


Suldog said...

It's a lovely creche.

I once bought a small Italian evergreen in a pot, when I was courting MY WIFE. My plan was for it to be our living Christmas tree for the rest of our lives. Unfortunately, even before Christmas arrived, it somehow got a bit too much sun, turned brown, and died. Our marriage has been fine, though, and perhaps that tree was sort of our "Portrait Of Dorian Grey"?

Uncle Skip, said...

Thank you for the link... I want to hear more about the calf.

Stephen Hayes said...

We once bought a potted Christmas tree and I planted it in the backyard after Christmas. Eight years later it died and when I went to dig it up I saw that it still had a Christmas ornament on it, one of those bulbs that break if you look at it wrong, yet this one had managed to survive eight blistering summers and eight icy winters.

Buck said...

The Second Mrs. Pennington and I had a live tree our first Christmas in England and we planted it in the backyard of the USAF housing estate on High Wycombe Air Station. The tree survived the next two years ('81 and and '82) but was gone when I returned on a business trip in the mid-'90s (I made a special trip out to the Air Station just to see if the tree was still there). The Air Force apparently ripped it out of the ground to put fencing in between the houses.

So much for my legacy...

#1Nana said...

We have an artificial tree, purchased after Christmas at 75% off some years ago. It doesn't drop needles on the floor, but doesn't have that devine Christmas smell either.

Merry Christmas!