A Storybook Christmas

November 27, 2011 at 8:15 am (Book Commentary, My City) (, , , , , , , , , )

I was here last Tuesday…

Every year, the Saskatoon City Hospital is supported by the Festival of Trees which is hosted by the Western Development Museum.

I don’t get to go every year. The festival runs for a week for Sunday to Saturday and unfortunately last year, due to working and the extreme cold, I didn’t get there.

Not that I minded, very much, because the trees do get to look very similar after awhile.

I’ve narrowed my 200 pictures of the 80 displays down to 16 pictures of 10 trees that I wish to showcase.

First up is the Hug Tree; it makes me smile. Honestly, I do want to hug it, especially the bear on top.

Speaking of toppers – isn’t this Lego angel the cutest thing. It’s perfect for a household full of little kids. Though, the young ones I know would daily be rearranging the Lego ornaments into new configurations.

There were the ubiquitous pink trees. If I remember correctly, this was a Barbie themed tree.

Of course, the Disney Princesses made an appearance or two (or three).

There was a Nutcracker tree. I love the army of mice (but then, I Like Mice).

There was a blue Polar Bear tree based on the Polar Express book.

There was the ever present Riders’ tree – they’ve had a rough year. 🙂

There was a fantastical, delightful, whimsical Seuss tree.

If you bought it, you got the books as well. Yes, all 80 displays were for sale; a quick, but not cheap way to decorate for the holidays. My favourite trees were too expensive for unemployed me to even think about buying. I’m not sure if I’d buy a pre-decorated tree even if I had the money (which does go to support a good cause). I mean, where’s the fun in that? The best part of the holidays is doing things, like decorating & baking, yourself.

My favourite tree was the Ebeneezer Scrooge tree. I loved the Victorian feel, the details true to the story, and the whole overall gold and white colour theme.

Look closely at the ledger; there is Scrooge with his quill pen keeping exact track of where his money is.

If you start at the beginning, the scroll tells us the story of Scrooge and Marley and the Christmas haunting. Did the ribbon come like that or did one of our meticulous decorators sit down and copy the words out by hand?

I also loved the Saskatchewan tree. It reminded me of Christmases spent on the farm, of quiet times and simple pleasures.

Of small towns and skating and sledding parties just before school broke for the holidays. I wonder, sometimes, if anything really got learned that week before school closed for the holidays.

I took this picture for my friends that curl. I don’t curl; I make it a point not to participate in sports I don’t understand. For a great Canadian curling movie, go and watch Men with Brooms. Funny, funny, funny and oh so, Canadian!

The haystack, below the tree, needs more cows and pigs and chickens (and perhaps, sheep).

I had high hopes for this year’s theme; A Storybook Christmas. Surely, the trees would go beyond the typical. There is always a Polar Express tree, a Night before Christmas, a Barbie, a Disney, and other ubiquitous childhood toys represented. It was nice to see Dr Seuss and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory this year. However, I was hoping for something more imaginative.

I wanted every tree to be based on a book and not just any books, but Canadian books. Can you imagine it?

How about a junkyard tree to represent Margaret Laurence’s The Diviners or an Anne of Green Gables tree?  Instead of a Dr. Seuss tree, do a bunch of Munsch; instead of Disney princesses, the ever adventurous Paperbag Princess.

For our Saskatchewan tree, the decorations could have been based on A Prairie Year or W. O. Mitchell’s Who Has Seen the Wind. The tree mostly is already, to keep in the Storybook theme just toss copies of these books in the hay stack below the tree.

Instead of a Riders’ tree, what about a hockey tree based on Ken Dryden’s book The Game? A Pierre Berton tree could encompass all of Canadian history or do a historical tree based on our first women writers, the sisters Susanna Moodie and Catherine Parr Traill.

Want something different. A computer/technology themed tree could be based on the works of Douglas Coupland (Generation X, Microserfs). A dystopian tree could be based on Margaret Atwood’s futuristic novels like the Handmaid’s Tale, Oryx & Crake and The Year of the Flood. Or be political; try a tree based on Two Solitudes by Hugh Maclennan.

Finally, for the pure joy of it, I would base a tree on the works of Charles de Lint; most especially, the mythical city of Newford. I would need ornaments of the crow girls, cats, goblins, pixies, Victorian libraries, and other mythological creatures. I could let my imagination run wild and hide his many volumes underneath and within the branches of the tree. This would be a tree worth buying.


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