The talk, these days, seems to hover around the new COVID-19 variant and the coming holiday season.
And, as the days of the calendar continue to move steadily ahead, it seems the easy ebb and flow of conversation between friends and family lies somewhere in between.
The other day, after I had finished a particularly rigorous workout session, actually, come to think of it, it wasn’t particularly rigorous, it just was. Rigorous.
Anyway, as I was gently massaging my aching muscles and thinking about how glad I was the class had ended and not much else, I dimly heard the other ladies laughing and chatting together.
And so, I perked up my ears a little. What had I missed while I was focused on examining my poor, aching out of shape body?
Christmas trees! They were talking about Christmas trees. It seemed they were talking about going out to the west country and chopping down a Christmas tree.
I had to smile. It seems that even though all the worries and woes of the world do not really take a break at Christmas, finding that perfect Christmas tree continues, at least for some of us, to take precedence overall.
And, to my way of thinking, so it should.
I listen to their excited chatter and, suddenly without warning, the ghost of Christmas past pops into my head.
And in my mind, I leave the crowded gym and, in fact, the present and in less than a heartbeat I am a child again, living in a little old bachelor pad, complete with curtain-less windows and cracked linoleum on the floor.
It is cold in here and I crowd closer to the coal and wood stove for warmth. And then, suddenly, the door opens letting in an icy blast of winter.
My dad is standing there, his face and, in fact, his whole body almost obscured by the tree, the beautiful, green Christmas tree that will soon grace our somewhat dingy front room with its glorious, tinselled self.
And bubble lights. It will have bubble lights. I smile as I remember.
Fast forward several years and I am lifting up my six-week-old son up to look at another tree in a snowy Edmonton parking lot being held up for his viewing pleasure by his father.
It, too, was the most perfect tree in the world.
A few days ago, I found, once again, the perfect Christmas tree.
It was made perfect by one tiny boy who painstakingly placed each of my ornaments on its boughs with all the precision and concentration befitting that of a seven-year-old.
“Do you like it, grandma? he asked, his earnest little face reflected in the glow of the twinkling tree lights.
“It’s perfect,” I said. “The best Christmas tree ever.”
I smile. He smiles. And we both agree that perfection truly does lie in the eye of the beholder.
Treena Mielke is a Central Alberta writer. She lives in Sylvan Lake with her family.