Friday, December 23, 2016
We have always liberated red cedar trees from their earthy toil to use as Christmas trees. I have no memories of any kind of tree real or plastic but red cedars. Although I have always liked them, they are mostly considered noxious weeds up in this part of the country. They grow up in dormant pastures or fields and will quickly crowd out anything else in a generation or two. Back in the day, they were kept in check by frequent wild fires but since those are kept in check these days, the red cedar reigns supreme bowing only to a saw.
Our family tradition has always dictated that after eating our Thanksgiving turkey, we go for a hike and harvest a red cedar tree. Although it doesn't always happen that way, it happens more often than not. Back then, there wasn't such a thing as Black Friday or shopping at all but now, our tradition seems more of a rebellion against the shopping frenzy around us and I'm okay with that as well.
In my youth, there was always an argument about which red cedar to liberate and coming from a household of four, it always ended up a tie. So that led to our other tradition of flipping the glove (thumbs up or down) to determine the winner. Thus far with my immediate family, our four year old hasn't shown interest in voting so we've never had a tie yet but one day, I'm sure I will re-institute the flipping of the glove tradition with my kids. It's inevitable.
Red cedars in their dormant months turn a grayish brown and aren't that attractive initially. But over the years, we've found if you dump some green food coloring into the first batch of water you give it, by the next day, it will be a deep shade of green. Also, the initial waterings will turn the needles from being very prickly to being soft and pliable and although not pleasant, less prickly. The water pulls the tree out of dormancy and it will do well for three to four weeks and then it started to dry up pretty quickly. The worst part about red cedars is pulling them through the doorway to dispose of them. Needles fall by the bucket loads. We have learned that they should immediately be swept up before they get tracked through the house and you are discovering needles with your bare feet in spring time.
The last handful of years we've been going down to the deep south to spend time with my grandparents during their last years here on earth and so we have been taking our trees down on Christmas day so that we can leave early the next morning. It always seems a bit sad to take down such a tree on the day of the celebration but I've gotten used to it over the years. I find that it allows me to get back into a routine after a month of excesses and turning into a hermit to avoid the chaos in the shopping areas of town.
With that said, I'm off to the deep south, this time deeper than normal, to spend the rest of the year with my parents, brother and his family and grandparents along with my family and mother-in-law. Since we aren't going to be along a coast this year, I'm not sure what will transpire but I'm looking forward to it just the same. Have a Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and I will 'see' you all sometime next year.