Winter has come in like a lamb, so the idea of Christmas is still a bit foreign. Last week though, was the weekend that the Staatsbosbeheer, or state forests of Holland, had their annual Christmas tree-cutting party. Counter-intuitive though it may seem for the forestry to sell its own stock and encourage people to come and cut some of it down (only on that day, in a controlled area), they do need as much financial support as they can get since the government recently approved budget cuts of 70% to the conservation of nature in Holland. And since my husband is the black sheep of the family and every single one of his relatives has to make their way to Amsterdam from Rotterdam (a psychological pain, as well as one of parking) because we’re hosting Christmas this year, and since I always love how low-key the Dutch approach to Christmas is until it happens and I think, well, it could have been a bit more Christmas-y, for the first time in my life, I cut down a Christmas tree.
It was quite a party. There was hot chocolate to be had, a roaring fire to warm the hands and feet,
and a brass band playing, led by, who else? Santa Claus, of course.
This was no quaint Canadian experience where someone owns a large piece of land and invites a select group of friends to drink mulled wine and pick a tree out of a place that needs thinning, or you plant another one to replace it. This was a social happening, and even made the evening news.
As alarming as it was to see masses of people clearing a small portion of a forest of its trees,
hauling them out and piling them on top of their cars, the thought that the money they’d paid would go toward keeping the (rest of the) forests intact was only slightly comforting. It all had me feeling more like the Once-ler than the Lorax that I thought I was.
Because that tree was a cinch to cut. It took less than a minute, and I didn’t even break a sweat, didn’t give it a second thought. All you need is a sharp saw, as the politicians in the Hague know all too well.