Describing a Christmas Tree
Frost-spikes hang off the window sill like an iceman’s glassy fingers. The pine sweet smell of the tree ghosts through the room. The silver flash of tinsel glitters brightly. One of the greatest gifts of Christmas is the smell and sight of the Christmas tree. My blog seems to be getting a lot of hits from people who want a description of the tree. Because of that, todays post will be about the significance of the tree from a different perspective. I suppose it gives a theory, and only a theory, as to why we love it so much.
I always enjoy looking for the Google searches that draw people into my site. It keeps me on my toes as I respond to the wishes of the masses. So, to the person who typed in: ‘Tiger descriptive sites’, I can assure you that help is on the way! It may come too late for you, but I am looking forward to the challenge. I love it when I can provide something that can’t be Googled anywhere else. For all of those nice people who comment on the blog, a big thank you. Check out my new descriptive book and workbook on Amazon by clicking the title: Writing with Stardust. Thanks to all my regular followers and without further ado, here’s the post.
Describing A Christmas Tree
Why do we love the Christmas tree so much? Is it the piney smell gliding through the room? Is it the silver flash of tinsel glittering on the tree? Or is it simply for what it represents? If you are wondering what it represents, perhaps it is better to put on the kettle, make yourself a cup of tea and prepare to settle down for a while. For the Christmas tree is a lot of things to a lot of people, but perhaps most of us are missing its deeper significance. In my humble opinion, it is a gateway to the past, an anchor of the present and a bookmark that our mortal coil won’t last forever. The Christmas tree is the greatest single reason why we should appreciate friends and family while they, and we, are here in this world.
Let us take the present first. It’s Christmas Eve. You look out the window. The world outside is silent, still and deadly. The ice-cold fangs of Jack Frost have bitten deep into the flesh and blood of the earth, extracting its life-force and leaving it clay-cold and drained. The night before, he was out and about, plunging his vampire-white teeth into whats left of nature’s trembling, dying heart. There is no leaf-rustle, no birdsong, no grass-whisper. Everything is veiled in a layer of candyfloss-white snow. Underneath the crackling carpet of snow, the frost is silk-silver and polishes everything with its shiny, glassy malice. Below the window sill, frost-spikes hang down like a phantom’s despairing fingers. The frost hates every living thing. It seems to swoop down from the iron sky and strangles the world into silence with its cold gleam and icy rime. It creeps and crawls like a burglar’s chilling shadow, stealing all signs of life from the land. When it has finished, the world is as cold and drawn as a zombie’s face.
Inside the living room, the fire fizzes and spits, banishing the Undead fingers of frost to the world outside. It is a place of warmth, a land of sanctuary and safety. Man has invented his own frost to keep Jack the Lad at bay. Wrought in fire and blasted with sand, the windows are double glazed and protective, a doppelganger of the frost it was designed to conquer. There is a funfair of smells drifting about the house. Some are strong and earthy, like the mushroom vol-au-vents gently steaming in the oven. The peppery taste of Christmas pudding vies with the seasoned and grape-scented mulled wine. The faint crackling of goose juices dripping onto tin foil can be heard from the kitchen. Its unique smell of Mcdonalds paper mixed with a delicious, gamy scent swirls in to the room and nourishes the soul. Other welcome fragrances make the room a sensory overload of pleasure. The exotic and spicy whisper of stuffing and parsley burning into turkey flesh makes stomachs rumble and mouths water. It is Christmas Day and alien smells inhabit the house. Alien, yet strangely familiar. The strongest aroma is not the cordite smell of Christmas crackers nor the orchid-scented candles flickering on the mantelpiece. It is the smell of the Christmas tree.
Its sweet, cedar fragrance laminates the room, lending a divine flush to the soup of smells. Its woody incense is a heady one and sweeps us away to a time of plenty. It is 10,000 B.C . There are between 20 and 30 of the Magdalenian tribe sitting around a fire at the foothills of the Pyrennes mountains. They have deep, fruity laughs, tanned faces and they enjoy the camaraderie that a fire brings. Their hair is not the Rapunzel-gold of fairy tales but rather thick and wavy, a tumble of hobbit-curls that drifts over their eyes. The men all have beards to protect them from the cold, starry nights and the women wear deerskins and a rough form of boot made from the hide of mountain goats. Strange shadows flit and glide around the camp, silent and large. They are the hunting wolves of the Magdalenians. The wolves are both strong and fierce and very protective of their human allies. Earlier in the day they brought to bay a wild boar and the sound of bone snapping and cracking fills the secret glade. The Magdalenians have rested up in a deep canyon in the forest. Watchful eyes, none of them friendly, lurk elsewhere in this jumble of holly trees, dense conifers and pine forest. The human race in Europe numbers a mere 3 million people but most of the tribes are warlike and savage.
The dripping blood from the wild boar meat and a wild turkey makes the fire spit and cackle. Five juicy salmon, plucked from the spawning grounds of the River Elbo, are skewered on sticks next to the boar. Their silver skin blisters and sizzles in the fires flame. A crude pot is on the boil next to it, containing wild mushrooms, periwinkles, over-ripe almonds and thyme. It is December 25th in prehistoric Spain and Christmas dinner is a surf ‘n turf delight. When the salmon carcasses are thrown to the wolves, they will roll in them rather than eat them, a trait that still puzzles dog lovers today. The wolves know why they do it, however. Tomorrow they will go hunting again and their scent will not be the strong odour of a wolf. It will be a mixture of every dead animal they roll in, confusing their prey.
After dinner is over, the tribe will peer through the lattice-work of leaves above, straining to look at the flicker-silver stars. There is no light pollution here and the moons dazzling brilliance flings spears of gold into the glade. Their mint-fresh lungs inhale deeply and take in the fading fragrances of their dinner. A phantom of smells still lingers in the air: grilled meat, charred cedar boughs and the sap-sweet smell of the forest. Tomorrow the men shall go to a cave and celebrate the abundance of game in this area. It is a tradition their ancestors started 5,000 years ago. They shall draw pictures of boar, bull, mountain goat, wild sheep, deer, large fish and bison on the walls. They are Europe’s first artists, but in 10,000 years time, their descendants will be the only Spanish tribe Julius Caesar cannot conquer. As enduring as the forests they live in, the Magdelenians love the challenges that nature throws at them. They shall conquer all those challenges and eventually provide the genes that nourish the newly-thawed lands of England and Ireland.
Back in the present, the man sitting in the living room chair lets the ghost of Christmas smells drift up his nostrils. It stirs up long-banished memories but he can’t put his finger on it. The dark, glossy-green of the holly cuttings should mean something to him, he knows, but he doesn’t understand it. The Christmas tree and its medicinal smell is a symbol, but he can’t figure out what it is. The waft of his new leather shoes mixes with the thyme freshness of the turkey, but still he cannot trace the link back to the dawn of his ancestors. In truth, they would not care for his sentiments even if he could understand them. They would just be happy that their descendants have finally conquered nature and the genes are secured. No longer does Man have to eke out an existence among the trees. He now has the ability to bring the trees into his house. He looks out the window as the medicinal smell of the Christmas tree breathes through the house. The angel on top of it glitters like a star and he is suddenly content although he doesn’t know why. He can see his dog rolling in the moonscape of snow and wonders about its meaning…..
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