I spent some time this morning happily wrapping Christmas presents for my family. Usually we wait until the last minute, but some murmurings from my parents to the effect that they’ve already bought the tree, in contravention to our usual practice of waiting until everyone is home from wherever they’ve been and getting one of the last picked-over remnants of trees on the 21st or 22nd, inspired me to get on with it myself.
We used to get trees from our own land, when we had land; last year my sister and I were sent out to get the tree and found one from what we’re pretty sure was a smuggling operation of trees from Antigonish. (We were on PEI. These things happen.) Who knows: it might well have come from our old land, just outside of Antigonish on the road towards Malignant Cove. We were rather pleased at the slightly rakish air of the tree; our parents thought it a bit rake-like.
When I was little, we would get trees out of the boreal forest. We lived near the end of the road in northern Saskatchewan, and my dad would take us to some off-shoot road leading off into the bush. We would drive down it a ways, then spend three hours in -25 to -40 degree weather traipsing about with progressively less gaiety looking. Almost always we would get the one my older sister had picked out within the first half hour; my choices were usually rejected after due consideration for listing too much to one side or another, having improper branches, being too Charlie-Brownish.
I’m looking forward to decorating the tree. (My parents’ decision to get it early did not, apparently, extend to this.) I love these trees, these ideas of Christmas, the practice of putting the gifts under them. I love giving gifts: big ones and little ones, trying hard to find the things that are just what the recipient wanted but didn’t say. I wish I gave gifts more often, actually, as surprises or for birthdays, but sadly I am not always very well-organised. This past year was particularly bad for remembering my friends’ birthdays and special occasions in time, but I’m going to get better at this, I hope.
I had more elaborate thoughts on gift-giving — something I think about a fair amount, actually (or is that an embarrassing thing to admit? But I do; I keep reading minimalist blogs and thinking: but tangible gifts are important! It’s not about money or Stuff, it’s about the particularity of the gift, the love that goes into it and that it represents!) — but I think I’ll stop here and finish my wrapping instead.
(One small note: gift may be in practice a transitive verb, but give is a much nicer one. I gave a gift: not I gifted a gift. It’s a prevalent Americanism — or at least I’ve seen it mostly in American writing — but I am going to fight for the English language’s strong verbs. They’re worth keeping.)