|Our freshly cut Christmas tree|
in the back of our handyman Rich's pickup truck
When we put up a Christmas tree at Darlington House we go to a tree farm and we cut the tree down ourselves. We are fortunate to live in an area where there are half a dozen such farms within an easy drive. Walking through the farm's fields, searching for, and then deciding upon a tree, cutting it down, and bringing it home is a pleasant and evocative annual ritual. It stirs up memories of similar expeditions in years past, and one is conscious of undertaking an activity similarly engaged in by millions of others, both in the present day and ever since the first man cut the first tree down one winter's solstice many, many thousands of years ago.
|Rich holding the tree on the walkway|
leading to Darlington House
This year the ritual was somewhat complicated for us. First of all, our Rover—which we typically use for such expeditions—was in the shop for an extended (and expensive) stay. And I wasn't up to engaging in the task, having been waylaid by a nasty, persistent cold. Fortunately, our trustworthy and exceptionally helpful handyman, Rich, was agreeable and took Boy to the tree farm in his red pickup truck and helped him find and bring home a tree to Darlington House. It was rather an undertaking, though, since the farm they visited is a very old and overgrown one. It no longer has fields of trees, but rather forests of them. The noble tree that Boy and Rich ultimately selected stood over forty feet tall, and it required calculations and a chain saw to fell and shorten for the trip home.
|The lower part of the tree is cut off—we will|
use the branches to decorate the house
Not only that, but Rich assisted Boy in readying the tree to bring into the house. That takes some doing, Dear Reader, because it wouldn't do to merely bring a tree into Darlington House without first grooming it. Grooming it, you ask? Yes, you read that correctly! Our tree needed to be (further) cut down in order to fit the ceiling height of our house, and it also required pruning of extraneous branches so that there was sufficient space to artfully hang ornaments. But such administrations were not unique to this particular tree—almost every Christmas tree we've ever had at Darlington House has required (well, at least benefited from) such attention before it is deemed ready by Boy to be decorated.
Reggie is not a fan of most farmed Christmas trees that are available these days. Too many of them have been aggressively pruned during their growth to achieve a form that Reggie considers to be too fat and too bushy, and too perfectly conical. One cannot hang ornaments on such a tree, Dear Reader, one can only drape them. No, Reggie prefers an old-fashioned, naturally formed Christmas tree, one that hasn't been managed during its growth. But even such natural trees need a little help to achieve the spindly perfection they require (at least at Darlington House) for optimal ornament display. One must carefully and judiciously prune them of at least a few extra branches in order to ensure perfection.
|The tree, now cut down to size, is shown standing|
in the brown painted galvinized wash tub
we use to hold it
It took Boy and Rich half an hour or so of careful grooming in order for the tree to be ready to be placed in our dining room. Dining room, you ask? Who puts up their tree in their dining room, instead of their living room? Well, Dear Reader, we put our tree in our dining room instead of our drawing room (which is what we call our living room for reasons that are too complicated to explain in this essay) or our Snuggery (which is what we call our sitting room/den/study/library, also for reasons that are too complicated to explain here). We do so because it is the one room at Darlington House that has a sufficient amount of empty space for one to fit!
|Once the tree has been cut down to size|
the process of thinning out the branches
for optimal ornament display begins
Our drawing room is a symphony of symmetry, Dear Reader, and it would be highly disruptive to the room's carefully balanced arrangement if we were to introduce a tree into it. I shudder at the very thought of it! Our Snuggery, on the other hand, is so jam-packed with furniture and decorations that we would either have to cart much of it away in order to squeeze a tree into the room, or it would need to be a very tiny tree, indeed.
|The now-groomed tree, placed in our dining room|
and ready to be decorated
This year, Boy's Christmas tree theme (and there is a different theme every year) is "Silver and Pinecone Woodland." He decorated it solely with vintage silver ornaments, pine cones gathered from our property, white fairy lights, and a flock of little gray and white birds perched on its upper branches. It is really rather beautiful.
Stay tuned . . .