Fragrance Quote for December 19th, 2012-The Original Christmas Tree By Walter Prichard Eaton

Happy Christmas, painted by Johansen Viggo



The Original Christmas Tree by  By Walter Prichard Eaton

The origin of the Christmas tree I do not now remember. Is the tree a gift from Paganism, also? At any rate, it is another link connecting Christmas with the winter world. The unfortunate inhabitants of towns, who must needs buy their tree from the corner grocer, miss one of the season's rarest delights. In our mountain world, a couple of days before the holiday we put on our moccasins, our snow-shoes, our mittens and caps, and, armed with an axe, we set forth into the woods. The woods are quite silent now, for even the chickadees have deserted them, coming in about our dwellings. The only sound is made by the snow falling from wind-stirred branches or melted off by the sun. We hear it falling, with tiny, soft thuds, as we go along. The forest aisles are like a frost cathedral. Low branches shake "their frosty pepper" in our faces. On the ground are many tracks, mute records of the wood creatures. Here a squirrel has run from a tree to his storehouse under a stump. There a pheasant slept last night, scratching away the snow to the bed of leaves below. Here a rabbit has gone bounding along. There a deer has passed, stopping to browse off a ground hemlock. But there is no sound of them now. The woods are still, save for the soft thuds of the tiny falling drifts from the branches—still and white, and lit by the winter sun. Presently we come upon the stand of young evergreens we are seeking, and hunting out the perfect specimen we desire, thick branched to the very ground, our axe rings out in the frosty silence and the fragrant spruce or balsam topples down. We tug it home with laughter, meeting others with similar loads, and as we draw near our dwelling, and the low afternoon sun is casting purple shadows over the snow and the eastern mountains are melting into amethyst, we smell the pungent fragrance of wood fires burning and hear on the village street the jingle of sleighbells. We always have a little Christmas tree, too, for the birds. Winter is the season when the birds need most protection, for their natural food supply is largely cut off, and our house is ringed with suet boxes and feeding tables. But just outside the dining-room window, on the very ledge, is the chief feeding place, and here are sunflower seeds and suet at all hours; and at all hours the chickadees, juncos, nuthatches, and woodpeckers may be seen feeding. The chickadees will feed from our hands, and if the window is open they will hop boldly inside, even taking food from the table while we are at dinner. They are so pretty, so friendly, such brave and cheerful little creatures, that a far less tender soul than Saint Francis would desire to share with them his Christmas joys. So we give them a Christmas tree all their own. It is a tiny fir tree, set in a pail outside the window. It is hung with bits of suet and seeds, and on the top is a little red candle, which we light before dark on Christmas Eve, because birds retire early, and the chickadees must have their celebration before bedtime!