My mother always insisted that we really decorated at Christmas. We did have the very decorated tree, but we also needed to get the evergreen boughs to make the wreath and festoon the mantel and the staircase banister. We had, like, half a tree besides the Christmas tree in the house.
This time of year, all the florists about charge money for the greenery, but in our house, we didn’t buy it. In early years, Mom would send me monkeying up the pine tree in the back yard with clippers, free to throw the boughs down on my brother. But then they cut all the lower limbs off the tree and I couldn’t climb it any more.
But by then I had a driver’s license. If you think I drove out to to the florist’s and purchased ample greenery, you are wrong.
I would wait til late at night and drive over to Cambie Street, where there are huge old evergreen trees lining the boulevard. I would actually go inside the sheltering boughs and cut the green from inside. Then, when no cars were coming and the street was absolutely deserted, I would smuggle armsful of greenery into the back of my car.
Yes, I stole our Christmas greenery from the city. I’m not really sure how that happened. Mom said, “We need greenery,” and my response was to steal it. She condoned it. I told her what I was doing. I guess she knew the trees could spare it or something. Standing in the middle of the dripping, sticky, pitchy, buggy trees, I knew they could spare a few boughs.
The green would spend a couple of days drying out (giving the bugs that hadn’t decamped into my car a chance to escape) and then we’d cut them to size and hang them.
The results were really beautiful. We wrapped ribbon around the boughs on the banister and set baubles into the stuff on the mantelpiece. We worked to make the wreath perfect and even and gorgeous.
Stolen or not, that greenery made me smile.