PINING FOR TRADITION
I MAY BE BARKING UP THE WRONG TREE IN AN ATTEMPT TO RECAPTURE THE SPIRIT OF CHRISTMAS PAST
My Christmas tree is very grownup this year. It’s one of those minimalist Scandi ones and matches my coffee table. I feel like a festive fraud. My family grew up near a pine forest and back then our tree was always the real deal. I spent hours padding through the woods on a carpet of sound-shushing needles, holding hands with my little sister as we evaluated specimens based on their symmetry, character, colour and load-bearing potential. Thanks to the vaulted ceiling in our lounge room, it was go big or go home. Getting the giants off the back of Dad’s red pick-up and through the front door was a feat of engineering and, once inside, it would rain assorted insects for at least a week. We couldn’t reach past the bottom three boughs to hang decorations, but our holiday rituals revolved around making new decorations to adorn our prize. With Frosty the Snowman and The Little Drummer Boy playing on our big grey box of a TV, or The Tin Lids Christmas tape blaring in the background, we’d set to work. Our fingers were forever coated in the Clag glue we used to make paper mache baubles and we’d hunt for pine cones to spray-paint silver. We couldn’t wait until it was dark so we could turn on the winking lights. I miss the heady scent of crushed pine needles, which would fill the home with Christmastime for weeks. Most of all I miss sitting with my sister under those big branches, legs crossed as we ripped into presents we’d sneakily peeked into a fortnight before and rewrapped. Now she has a new tradition involving the gift of penalty rates and my day has been missing some of its magic. When it comes to making my own traditions I’m still finding my feet. I’m tempted to go as minimalist as my tree, with a cruisy lunch and afternoon coma, but there’s part of me that still wants to go big or go home.