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Outdoor Life - Outdoor life is a column by Mick Bohonis.
2011-12-09 at NOON

Christmas means trees

Although I have seen many Christmas trees already set up in the front windows of local residences, it’s that time of year when most folks get serious about doing so if they already haven’t and join the rest of the sheep herd in bringing home that pine or balsam.

The tradition of having a tree in our homes to umbrella a truck load of gifts has been in place for eons, and seems to be as strong as ever.

Tree lots are popping up everywhere in the city and of course the fake trees are boxed and piled high in most of the big retailers in town, and then there is the tradition of taking the kids out into the bush and selecting the perfect Christmas tree and cutting it down yourself.

Although I think the latter of the three is dwindling fast as years go by, it’s still important to many people who want to make that outing a memorable part of their holiday season.

What about me you ask? Well in all honesty I have experienced all three (bought, fake, and self harvested) All have their advantages and disadvantages. A fake tree is just that; it’s fake but lasts for years and doesn’t dry out and leave a kazillion needles throughout the house that need to be swept and vacuumed up. You can purchase a decent fake tree for a couple hundred bucks which over the period of a decade is a mere $20 a year.

The bought tree is good too, but costs on the average of $60 a pop and over a period of 10 years is a cool $600. The good part about a bought real tree is it’s convenient. You don’t have to drive far to find one, and these lots usually have hundreds of trees to select from.

In most cases these trees are very symmetrical and shapely, but the downfall of a tree lot Christmas tree is they are cut well in advance and shipped to us via transport truck from a Christmas tree farm. This means two things; they are aged and very dry. Keeping them hydrated is extremely important, and from experience they will suck up a lot of water once set up in the house.

A dry Christmas tree can become an extreme fire hazard, so it’s imperative to make sure there is ample water feeding the trunk of that tree on a regular basis.

As a long time hunter, the majority of my Christmas trees came from the great outdoors, simply because of the timing of the hunting season in conjunction with the onset of the Christmas season. Hunting season up here in northwestern Ontario extends to December 15th which means I’m out in the woods looking for that moose, deer, or simply small game hunting. Over the period of a couple of months prior to Christmas I spend a lot of time eyeing up some possible prospects when the time comes to harvest.

Being fortunate to be the owner of a large chunk of private property allows me to enjoy an afternoon walking some bird trails or cruising the back part of my property on my ATV this time of the year, in most cases the end result is coming back to camp with a tree in tow.

The custom of erecting a Christmas tree can be historically traced to 15th century Livonia (present-day Estonia and Latvia) and 16th century Northern Germany. Germany is where the Christmas tree’s roots (no pun intended) really began.

I bet a lot of you had no idea how old this tradition is and how it all got started?

Long before the advent of Christianity, plants and trees that remained green all year had a special meaning for people in the winter. Just as people today decorate their homes during the festive season with pine, spruce and fir trees, ancient peoples hung evergreen boughs over their doors and windows. In many countries people believed that evergreens would keep away witches, ghosts, evil spirits and illness.

Today if you asked any young person what is symbolic about their Christmas tree, I would bet the majority of the answers would be “To put all the presents under”!

To a lot of folks Christmas is the decorated tree in their homes, and rightly so. It has many meanings and gives off an aura that fills the home with spirituality.

This weekend I will be out in the woods trying to help a friend fill his moose tag before the season ends, however, I will also be hunting for the “prefect” Christmas tree as well.

If the moons line up, and luck is with me, I just may come home with both.
 

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