Eastern Red Cedar

I chose this image for this entry in the Collection because it reminds me of a cold winter night.  Perhaps, a cold Christmas Eve night lit by moonlight.

When I was growing up, Christmas trees did not come in a box, from a store, or from a Christmas tree farm.  They came from the pasture.  When we were very young, Daddy would take my brother and I out to search for the perfect tree.  We picked it out, Daddy approved it, or nixed our choice and had us look for another one.  When the right tree was found, Daddy cut it down and carried it home.  Once we were big enough to cut the tree and drag it home, we were allowed to go collect the tree by ourselves.  It was a heavy responsibility.  The young cedars did not grow in perfect symmetry.  This one was too misshapen, that one too short, the next one too tall.  One was too open.  Another one was pretty viewed from one side, but had a gaping hole in its shape if viewed from another angle.  And since cedar trees weren't really welcome in the pasture, Daddy periodically rooted them out.  Some years we had to travel far afield to find a selection to choose from.  I always looked for a female tree, liking the idea of the blue berries forming part of the Christmas display.  Eventually, we’d find a tree that pleased us both.  At home, Daddy would nail the tree to crossed planks to form a stand.  We had boxes of ornaments that Mama had collected over the years.  We made paper chains from construction paper and chains of popcorn to form our garland.  Mama bought new tinsel every year and we loved its shiny sparkle.  It was a thrilling production and, in our eyes, the finished tree was always a thing of great beauty.

Years after I had left home and started a family of my own, my Mom, my husband, and my young daughter went out one year to collect the tree.  We wound up in the boonies, so far off the beaten path that my daughter refused to get out of the truck.  She asked very nervously if her Grandpa knew where we were.  The trek had put me in my element, but far from seeing it as a happy adventure, she was hoping for a rescue.  We preservered in spite of her reservations, and found the perfect tree.  Back home we drug out all the ancient ornaments and repeated the familiar decorating ritual.  The tree was a thing of great beauty.