To Tree or not to Tree

This holiday season has been really odd so far. It started with the lack of Thanksgiving, and when normally we would have bought our Christmas Tree on Black Friday, instead it was just a normal thank-goodness-it's Friday. No great sales, no over-eating, no definitive start to the Christmas season. I kept looking around wondering at what point Christmas would start in Australia, but besides some mundane mall decorations it still hasn't.
Finally on December 1st I heard on the radio that it was the first day of summer (yeah, no kidding) and that it was ok to buy a tree.
It's tough being the first holiday away from the usual American holiday traditions. No potlucks, ornament exchanges, everything I'm used to that makes the holiday season something to look forward to. We searched the stores for days before we finally found some egg nog only to discover that it wasn't anywhere near as good as the egg nog I was looking forward to drinking.
We used to buy potted Christmas Trees and then we'd plant them at the family property in the mountains. Until the last fires we had Christmas Trees from over 20 years ago that had long since grown into mature pine trees. In a rental house in the city we have no place to plant a pine tree though, not to mention that I have not been able to find a potted tree over a foot tall. In fact, it's been hard finding any kind of Christmas Tree. I'm used to seeing them everywhere the minute Thanksgiving is over, in Home Depot, the abandoned corner lot, the grocery store...
We finally decided that it was time to start a new tradition in Oz. Last weekend we found a tree lot, picked out a tree, and cut it down ourselves. It was a bit sad cutting down a living tree, but it was also really fun finding just the right tree. We picked out the perfect one too - we have about an inch of clearance between the branches and the ceiling. The best thing about a cut tree is now the house smells like Christmas. That was always the bad thing about potted trees, they didn't have that wonderful pine tree smell. I really enjoyed decorating it - most of my ornaments are either from vacations or were handmade by myself, friends, or family, so it was really nice thinking about where they had all come from as I was hanging them.
I guess the moral of this Christmas Story is we might not be able to have the same traditions here that we're used to, but we do have an opportunity to start some new traditions and learn about how things are done in a different culture. And now we get to celebrate Boxing Day!

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