We have a piece of property just south of Rodeo, New Mexico we call the Tree Place where Ron keeps a near-dilapidated old railroad house that he dragged over from a neighbor’s place years ago. The house, once used for storing all the things our neighbor couldn’t fit inside his trailer or barn, now sits empty jacked up on iron beams and railroad ties nestled in a grove of pine trees.
The view from the front porch looks west where the setting sun moves slowly like a pendulum throughout the year across Horseshoe Canyon. Owls occupy both the house and the tall pines, and Ron has a few beehives scattered in the trees. It’s a spectacular place and, if someone was to visit, they might imagine their life differently while sitting on the porch listening to the trees talk in the wind.
Last week it occurred to me we were finally spending our first Christmas here on the ranch, and I wanted a Christmas tree. Ron suggested we cut down one of the pine trees over at the Tree Place, which is about forty-five minutes southwest of the ranch. With all the baking and party planning I have to do, he offered to go cut down a tree. I didn’t think anything of it when he hooked up a stock trailer before heading out. Hours later, when he returned with a fifteen foot Charlie Brown branch, I kept my mouth shut. With a grove of incredible trees, I had to decorate a giant branch? After the lights were strung and the ornaments hung, I asked my husband why he didn’t bring home the whole tree. First of all, he told me, all the trees were too big to fit in the house. Then he said the branch he’d cut was from a tree that had started growing in two directions. The part he’d cut off was stunted while the other part grew into a gorgeous pine and, like the other trees on the property, would be too big for the house.
It’s a lot to ponder this time of year. At what point did the branch decide that, to make anything of itself, it would have to live in the shadow of something beautiful. As we buy the dress and jewelry for the Christmas party and get our nails and hair done, in the back of our minds we wonder who will be at the party to put all our efforts to shame. The twenty-something girl who just started at the office in September and has everyone, especially the men, talking? The thirty-something neighbor who makes time for the gym even though she’s raising two gifted children and would look good in a pair of mom jeans? How about the forty-something class act who lights up a room with her winning smile and thinks your husband is charming? Or the blonde, brunette, or redhead? The point is, if we worry about the “other woman”, whoever she (or they) may be, we continue to stand in the shadows to survive. I am grateful for our branch. No longer bound to the perfect Christmas tree, it stands tall in all its glory lit up and decorated next to the fireplace.