Tuesday, November 18, 2008
O CHRISTMAS TREE (it's on the way!)
My friend Juanita, who lives in Montana, called me a while ago to tell me about an amazing thing her husband had just participated in. She is married to Stephen Small Salmon, who is an elder of the Pend Oreille First Nation. He was contacted to give ceremonial assistance in the cutting of this year’s Capitol Christmas Tree for Washington, D.C. I didn’t know much about the process, but apparently every year, a different National Forest and the State where it’s located (also one with suitably large trees, I presume) is given the joyful task of providing a tree to be sent to the Capitol to be “The People’s Tree.” This year it was a subalpine fir fromthe Bitterroot National Forest in western Montana doing the honors. After the selection was made, there was quite a ceremony surrounding the cutting. Stephen offered a prayer for the tree, and sang an honor song, then the sawyers stepped up. The tree was cut and loaded on a flatbed truck, and began its journey to the Capitol, making scheduled stops along the way. Here’s a LINK to the Montana tree website. On the home page you can find all the info on this year's tree, trees past, the history of the program, and a menu of jump links. Click on Photo Gallery and you’ll see a picture of Stephen praying at the tree, and photos of the group of several hundred people who turned out for the party. You can also see the route that the tree is taking – maybe it’s coming to a city or town near you – and there’s also a link further down the page that takes you to a live cam.
Stephen told Juanita it was “a healing tree” – certainly a good thing for this particular holiday, after such a long and contentious election process. Juanita said when she put her hand on the magnificent tree it felt that way to her, too. If you think this sounds a little woo-woo, go find yourself a large ‘grandfather’ tree and spend a quiet moment with it, and put your hands on it. Imagine what those grand old trees have seen!
In the interest of equal time, I decided to check out the Canadian Christmas Tree. I Googled every possible way I could think of, and didn’t find much of anything. I know there's a large tree that gets lit for the holidays in Ottawa, at Parliament Hill, and also one in Toronto (the unofficial Capitol). Then I called our fellow blogger Kat, who is always on top of everything, and she sent me a short article from the National Post. Apparently the Toronto tree (a white spruce this year) had already arrived (back on Nov. 1st!) at Nathan Phillips Square. But there doesn’t seem to be the sense of pomp and ceremony surrounding either of them - at least not until they are in place and lit. Toronto’s (and unofficially Canada's ) Christmas Tree and will be part of the 42nd Cavalcade of Lights, but there was no date given. I have to admit, it was a little disappointing, having just come from the big Montana Christmas Tree website with all the bells and whistles, and I kind of feel like a grinch even saying so. Of course, once any Christmas tree is lit, no matter where or how big or small, the spirit is the same everywhere. That’s what it’s all about!
Photo of subalpine fir from Wikimedia Commons