5 weeks ago
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Advent Calendar - Open December 9
Our family is fond of cedar trees cut from an old field for decorating around the solstice. In addition to being free, the removal of cedars from some locations is part of the process of restoring old fields to native grasslands. Because of the work I do I know where those locations are. Prior to European settlement that process of natural succession would have been set back a few years by periodic natural fires and the passage of huge herds of grazing beasts such as bison. I feel good about cutting a cedar to atone for that loss. Some of the first ecosystems to be destroyed were open native grasslands since they were easy to plow up to grow those three or four monocultures we seem to be so fond of. In essence, decorating an eastern red cedar is one way our family bucks against the consumer culture that has built up around what was once a solstice celebration and is now a religious holiday. Well...for some it's still a celebration of a planetary dance around a star. That's nothing to discount since it's pretty much a miracle when you get right down to it. We want to provide little miss Ruby with that kind of aesthetic. It will be something she can rebel against when she is old enough to decide on whether or not to bring a tree into her house and what species. Seems like cedars would still be around then. The wabi-sabi-ness of a cedar feels old fashioned compared to the perfect trees you pay dearly for. And for me it's a step back into childhood since cedar christmas trees remind me of my Mimi and Papaw. My dad's parents. I remember decorating those prickly cedars very well. We used tinsel that was made of lead. Pure unadulterated lead. It helped build strong bodies 30 different ways. Who knows what I would have made of myself had it not been for those years of lead exposure at christmas time. The antidote must have been the can of black olives I always got in the toe of my stocking at my grandparents house. Ummmm. Lead and salt. Sounds like a recipe for a Neil Young tune.
Anyway...that's what christmas means to me.