We have a Norfolk pine tree in a pot on the lanai. I bought it when it was tiny, in the supermarket, when my daughter was just born.
I had been inspired by the green movement to try a living Christmas tree. I brought it in the house for a few years as a second tree, because it grew tall enough for us to decorate, but it was still rather tiny. We gave up on it a few years ago because it’s scraggly by nature, with a lot of space between the branches.
Now the tree is about 11 years old, it’s leaning to one side, and the branches are irregular. I probably should embrace it as a survivor who lives despite routine neglect, rather than wishing it were more picturesque.
I’m toying with discarding it and planting something else in there. I’ve been indecisive for a few months, because the tree is a bit sentimental to me.
Sometimes, over the years, I have propped my feet up on the tree’s pot and relaxed on the porch. When things are annoying or frustrating, I escape to the lanai, sit there, listen to the birds, breathe the fresh air, and unwind. The tree is my friend. It’s always there with silent support.
On the other hand, I feel ready to have a change. Today, I asked Olivia to help me remove the tree and figure out what to plant next. She is not attached in the least to the tree.
“That tree reminds me of that fairy tale, The Little Fir Tree,” she said, referring to the classic Hans Christian Anderson fable. Then she launched into a recounting of the story that went on and on with a never ending series of “and then…”, making me feel worse and worse.
Basically, the story is told from the sweet tree’s perspective of how it lived in the woods and wanted nothing more than to serve as a family’s Christmas tree. After it was cut down, it knew it was going to die, but was pleased because it felt there is no greater joy than to bring smiles to the children’s faces.
After Christmas, the family left the tree to wither in the basement with the rats. It wistfully remembered its life in the forest. Eventually, people took it outside, where it was thrilled to think it would live again. Sadly, humans burned it with the other trash, and it went out in the crackle of flames. The end. (HC Anderson wasn’t known for his happy endings.)
Olivia said all this to me just because, not because she was trying to guilt me into keeping it. But that’s what ended up happening.
Our nice little Norfolk pine that had some stints in the family Christmas, but mostly lived outside and carried on a one-sided conversation with me. And now I want to kill it.
“OK, ready to work on that, Mom?” my child chirped happily after her tale ended.
“No. Let’s leave it out there a little longer,” I said. And then I – sappy me – went out and groomed the tree, watered it, and tried to appreciate it for whatever it’s given to us.