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It took a few days, but my body has finally caught up to what my brain has known: finals are over. The first day after I handed in my last final, I was afraid that the state of heightened anxiety, excessive adrenaline and lack of sleep had become permanent. You know, along the lines of ‘Don’t make that face, it might freeze that way’. Happily, the spring in my mind just took a day or two to uncoil.

My lovely husband, knowing what I needed most, had a Christmas tree delivered the day of my last final. It’s some kind of spruce, and smells different, but similar. We decked it with his childhood ornaments (my collection was too large and breakable to send) and some adorable vintage shoe ornaments I found last month. They have tiny wings! And, of course, more Christmas baubles.

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I myself am unfamiliar with the process of purchasing a Christmas tree, having retrieved one, at increasing peril to life and limb, from the back forty every year since I was a child.

When we were small, our parents would bundle us up and we would head into the (usually) snow-decked winter wonderland in search of the perfect tree. At first, these were all firs. Firs have sturdy branches and don’t run the risk of unpleasant, animal-related smells when you bring them in the house. Occasionally, my parents bent under the weight of our begging and let us bring in a hemlock. They’re just so fluffy in the wild, all feathery and dusted white. The downside, of course, is that anything heavier than a feather (and I exaggerate very little) bends down the branches in the most ludicrous fashion. And we have a lot of ornaments.

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As we got older, my parents left the three of us to our own devices in the matter of Christmas trees. As we grew, the trees in our relatively young woodland grew, too, so that the perfect trees were a little tall for our purposes/ceiling. Thus, away from parental supervision, was born the practice of scaling the Christmas tree before sawing off a festive eight feet. (Don’t feel bad for the forest; it was selective harvesting. The back forty can spare it.) It was years before my parents caught on. In fact, cell phones came into widespread use during this time. This is how I came to receive a call from my sister during finals my freshman year. Perched near the top of an evergreen tree, she wanted to know how you tell the difference between a spruce and a fir.

Happily, the spruce that produce strange smells does not seem to be native to our  woods.

Our Christmas Tree

Happy Christmas from the Far Outer Hebrides! As you float in your airship or perch precariously in your Christmas tree, may you find peace above the earth and goodwill toward your fellow airmen.

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