For a long period of time, I cannot even imagine that one reading may create such a great number of emotions, both negative and positive, at the same time. Probably, it happens because I did not have a chance to read the work by Barbara Dean, “Hunting a Christmas Tree”. This story is an amazing combination of natural beauty, human pretentiousness, and despair that may spoil even the most beautiful events in a human life like Christmas. “Hunting a Christmas Tree” is Dean’s personal position on how to celebrate Christmas and combine the nature with family traditions and expectations; it is a story that teaches how the nature should and may be treated regarding human interests, abilities, and imagination and explains that people are free to make their own decisions and give explanations to their actions.
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“Hunting a Christmas Tree” begins with a captivating description of the Christmas mood, human individualism, and the beauty of the nature that surrounds people but remains to be invisible for many of them. Dean introduces different aspects of living beings around carefully: the ground squirrels that “disappear underground early in November”, powerful oaks that “begin to loosen their grip on dying leaves”, and wood ducks “flapping wings, to remain through the winter” (10). It is hard to resist the power of her words. She chooses each word so attentively not to confuse the feelings or hurt the nature. Her decision to full fill a forest with a spirit has the function of reanimation. The reader believes that all around has its purpose and may be alive. People should remember that their existence is nothing in comparison to the power of nature.
Unfortunately, it is the only aspect that I find really fascinating in the story. The rest of the article makes me feel upset and even nervous. The author begins describing her attitude to the process of cutting a tree for Christmas. She has fears and compassion to everything around her. She demonstrates a unique ability to mix the joy of the holiday with the sorrow of loss and turn even the most beautiful emotions into something unpleasant and oppressive. Constant personal resistance and doubts about the necessity to cut a fir, chewing the process of tree choice, and comparison of expectations and reality may oppress the reader considerably. Dean describes a fir cutting as a death of a living being. “Each death is clearly part of sustaining another life, and, just as clearly, my own survival depends on being part of this chain every day in one way or another” (Dean 11). On the one hand, it is a powerful literary technique to compare the process of cutting a tree with a hunting process. On the other hand, it is too much to see that a person asks a tree for forgiveness and suffers from remorse. Of course, Dean is not the only author, who finds it correct and logical to talk to the nature and try to find a consensus between the co-existence of the two different worlds. Somé finds it normal as well to talk to the tree “not angrily, but respectfully” (45). In other words, all those doubts and whining may be justified in case Dean does not cut the tree. However, the results of her meditation and talks with the nature lead to one simple outcome – the tree has been cut and Christmas has come.
After reading the article, one question is left – why have you cut the tree at all, dear Barbara? There are many other options to be chosen in this situation. If the author respects the nature so much, she can buy a tree that has been planted at special places for a holiday. If it was so hard for her to cut a tree, she could ask another person to find a Christmas tree. Finally, it is always possible to grow a tree from a seed in a garden. Dean represents herself as a mettlesome conservationist and devoted vegetarian. She prefers to live in a country instead of spending her days in a big city. It is strange not to see a real fir in her garden. Such decision could deprive her of numerous doubts and stresses during Christmas holidays.
In general, the article helps the reader to understand personal worth of life. People are free to choose what to eat, whom to befriend with, what words to choose, etc. Dean seems to be a confident person with a strong will and abilities to determine her expectations from life. However, in the article, she represents herself as a weak person, who neglects her beliefs and respect to the nature to meet personal needs and make her soul surviving and finding peace in the holiday. The article teaches that it is not always necessary to focus on the details and be in harmony with everything around. It seems to be enough to be happy for a moment and do not impose or find explanations to personal happiness.
Dean, Barbara. “Hunting a Christmas Tree.” Orion 11.1 (1992): 9-15. Print.
Somé, Malidoma, P. The Healing Wisdom of Africa. New York, NY: Penguin Putnam Inc., 1999. Print.