Sunday, December 10, 2006

O' Tannenbaum

Like many people today, we began our celebration of the Holidays, by getting an evergreen tree to bring inside. Unlike many, we choose the old fashioned means of skiing out into the woods to cut down our own. The roots (no pun intended) of tree use can be traced back before the birth of Jesus Christ to early Egyptians who would bring palms indoor as symbols of eternal life. Ancient Jewish religious feasts used decorations made of tree boughs.

In the Western world, most experts consider our use of trees during the winter holidays as derived from Rome. The Romans exchanged tree boughs with friends for luck. The Roman winter festival was celebrated by decorating the house with tree boughs and greenery. Trees were paraded around with candles and trinkets attached to the branches. And many Christian traditions in the home were borrowed from older pagan celebrations.

Once again, today we found ourselves outside, on a long ski from Crested Butte up to the Friends Hut, just below Star Pass. Along the way during my toil up the steep gradient, I would glance into the woods, or rather the trees. My eyes would select one or two each time I found the energy to take in the scenery.

My eyes were caught by a twisted, once proudly tall standing pine that had long been stripped of its greenery by time and the elements. But even this ghost of a tree, still stood tall and straight, a reflection of its younger days. It stood alone, yet proud.

Then there was a small group of close to the ground trees, hudling together for strength, but torn and worn down from the weather. I felt like they were watching me pass, as I bear witness to their eternally slow struggle, which made my own seem so irrelevant.

Others were shrouded in white, bearing the weight of past snowfalls, a sentence to be carried out until the spring thaw. Moss clung onto the tree admist the dense forest, dangeling like a muted green tinsle. Upon closer examination, colors burst out on the bark, as algeas and other crusty vegation added contrast to the earthy tones oozing up out of the ground on to the face of the proud giants.

Others had fallen victum to the passing seasons, and their branches reached up out of the snow calling out to be remebered, others were mearly a snowheap, an outline of their long robust bodies, now at rest under the winter blanket on the ground.

Once we came home from our adventure, I paused to take inour own tree, and what it represents. The closing of another year, and yet the hope for the new. Green symbolising life, standing tall and proud, and for growth while becoming stronger, to withstand whatever may come our way.

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