07 December 2008
A City Christmas Tree
Well, we did it. We broke with tradition this year. No trip to the country, to a hayride and hot apple cider and a cut-your-own experience "en famille" out on a tree farm. But all is not lost. In remaining city-bound this year, we participated in a time-honored urban Christmas ritual: visiting the "tree man" on the corner.
We started out by reading a fabulous children's book that I enthusiastically recommend to everyone: Rebecca Bond's magical story, A City Christmas Tree (link to view on amazon). No other book I've seen captures this aspect of a city Christmas, and this book matches beautiful, lyrical writing and a great family message with luscious illustrations. Each family member in this story has a unique vision of the tree, a favorite element--the scent, the color, the lights, the angel on top, the family who will gather around it--and in the end, the city is peaceful and calm, beautiful in the light of "hundreds of Christmas tree trees."
So, bundled against the cold (I regret there is no snow yet this season), we headed outside and down Second Avenue to 26th Street, where a small forest of precut trees--nonetheless beautiful and perfuming the block--awaited our inspection. And where we found our very own "Christmas tree man" ready to guide us.
(Here let me just acknowledge that all over the city, there are also young women sitting out in the cold all day and into the night, sleeping in vans, helping city dwellers find their perfect bit of a country Christmas imported into the asphalt jungle. I commend these women and men--this transient population, spreaders of good cheer and pine needles--it's a tough job, and I hope they are paid well for their work; they earn it.)
After the usual looking, rejecting , negotiating over the price and looking some more, we found a great Douglas Fir--this being our annual preference among the other varieties--and when we asked, we were told that our particular tree came from Pennsylvania. Selection made, price agreed, "Franck from Montreal" (we noticed his accent) put our tree into the bundling machine, cut off some of the trunk to give our tree the best chance at drawing up water once in our tree stand, and our transaction was finished.
My son, the budding photographer, is the one who documented the day's excursion with the following pictures of Franck, who is posing with our tree and preparing it for transport.
Come to think of it, perhaps the next time we're heading down 2nd Avenue, we'll remember Franck and bring him some hot cocoa and cookies...
For now, though, we're busy and warm inside: we have a tree to decorate!
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