Annie Calovich

December 15, 2012

Some Christmases are more Charlie Brown than others

Some Christmases turn out to be more Charlie-Brown-style than we might imagine, even when we’re adults.

Some Christmases turn out to be more Charlie-Brown-style than we might imagine, even when we’re adults.

Once it got cold enough last weekend to finally – and suddenly – feel a lot like Christmas, I finally but hesitatingly removed the still-gorgeous pumpkins from my front porch.

These were not the strict orange pumpkins, and they were still in great shape, so I felt like they spanned the post-Thanksgiving season a little less awkwardly than most. Still, I was a little embarrassed to be carting them off in December, and I placed them as decorations around the compost pile.

Then it was time to do the Christmas porch pot, which has become much easier with the advent of “spruce tops” that you can buy at some garden centers and hardware stores. They’re about 3 feet tall and look like little Christmas trees and are the perfect centerpiece for a pot that can then be filled in with evergreen boughs and cranberry picks and pinecones and bows.

According to Bachman’s of Minnesota, “the tree tops we use for winter decorations are white or black spruce tips, harvested in Northern Minnesota and Canada. The cutting of spruce tops is licensed by the state and provinces. It is actually a regenerative crop that can be harvested again and again. Grown in this manner, the tree tops will have the form and foliage of more mature trees, often bearing cones at a very small size.”

Unfortunately, I didn’t take the time to anchor my porch-pot ingredients in sand, as they should be, but instead used some potting soil that was handy. As a result, the pot blew over in the ice-cold wind of last weekend, and the boughs froze in place – sideways.

I put everything back in place, more or less, but then some critter, I think we can call him a squirrel, has come daily to hop up on the pot and toss everything out, looking for hidden candy canes or something. My porch, far from looking festive, is a mess.

I’m a little more successful with my indoor Charlie Brown tree. Johnson’s Garden Center carries not only the plain spruce tops, but spruce tops stuck into a block of wood so that they can stand up on their own. Apparently they’ve been flying off the outdoor shelves, so I was fortunate to be able to buy a couple, one for me and one for my sister. I asked another woman who was buying two of the “trees” what she planned to do with hers, and she said she wanted to flank a staircase with them, though she didn’t know how long the trees would last.

I brought mine home and sat it indoors on the floor, by a drafty window and away from the furnace outlet, and have left it unadorned. My sister fell in love with hers and declared it her sole Christmas tree. Since she and I usually go to the Christmas tree farm to get a tree, I felt my gift backfiring. But I also don’t know how long this little Charlie Brown tree will last. We decided that a few cool-to-the-touch LED lights might not hasten its demise, and I’ve been on the lookout for one simple little star with which to top it.

It’s funny how there are so many beautiful, wonderful and poignant things strictly associated with Christmas that we think we can’t live without to make the holiday complete, because they are so special and because they don’t surface at any other time of the year. Not only that, but some of the beautiful, wonderful and poignant things that we treasure seem to disappear every year. I’ve come to fear that if I don’t take part in, purchase and support everything I love about Christmas, it might go away.

But we can’t do, have and buy everything. This year I made a list of all the Christmas events I wanted to go to and decided to try to get to just one of them and be satisfied, rather than be sad that I didn’t get to all of them. Hi sanity, you old stranger.

And the fact that the simple little Charlie Brown tree can make us so happy is another indicator of what Christmas is all about. The longer I live, the more I realize that “It’s a Wonderful Life” – which I may or may not get around to watching this year – is a true story, for each one of us. It’s another Christmas miracle.

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