The Christmas tree, in the chronicles of the Parmenter family, seems to have an illustrious past that is worthy of
Similar to the Griswold family (from the movie Christmas Vacation"), my childhood Christmas memories were frequently
about the pilgrimage to find the right tree."
By right," my parents meant: not near the road; not at the top of the hill, always at the bottom; and no smaller than
8 feet high and similar in width.
The tree was almost always a piñon pine, and for some strange reason always seemed smaller before we got it into the
house. In fact, I can remember at least four occasions where the tree had to be wired to the wall, just in case."
By just in case," my parents meant: just in case it comes toppling over on you or your sister while we decorate it.
If that happens, try to make a space in front of your face as quickly as possible, and the search team will pull you
Yet as time passed - my parents divorced, my sister and I grew into teenagers and quickly became too cool for Christmas
- the tree still stood. It was always there (sometimes until Valentine's Day), and it always felt good to come home to.
There were times where it was just my mom and me going to find the tree; there was the live tree that quickly became
the dead tree; there was even the metaphorical tree that seems to have no documentation other than mental images.
Similar to The Giving Tree (an amazing book by Shel Silverstein that needs to be read by all parents), the Parmenter
Christmas tree was beloved, played with, majestic and comforting. It was family.
As I grew older and moved away, I still believed in the Christmas tree, but its meaning seemed to change. In fact, in
Florida, we felt it was only fitting to have a fake one.
In the book, the boy and his tree were the best of friends - the tree was his universe as he knew it.
But as time went by, the tree took on a new meaning - it had a new value. It provided the boy (now a young man) with
fruit to sell. The tree sacrificed its branches to make the boy a house. It sacrificed its trunk to make a boat that
would take him far away from here."
To continue quoting the book, And after a long time the boy came back again. I am sorry, Boy, but I have nothing left
to give you. I wish I could give you something but I have nothing left. I am just an
I don't need very much now," said the boy, just a place to sit and rest."
Well, said the tree, come, Boy, sit down. Sit down and rest."
And the boy did. And the tree was happy."
So Friday morning, remember that it isn't always what is under the tree that is important.
The tree - your family and friends - is the most valuable present of all.
Merry Christmas to all of you.
or 382-6464. Darrin Parmenter is director and horticulture agent of
the La Plata County Extension Office.