THE ANCIENTS by Hal Borland in 1979.
One need not go into history to find the reasons for veneration of the evergreen tree or bough as part of the Christmas season. They are of the enduring things of this earth, and man has known them as long as man has been here. The pine, the spruce, the hemlock, the fir - all those conifers that know no leafless season - have been held in special favor when man would have symbols of life that outlast all winters. And even more enduring, in geologic time, are the ground pine, the ground cedar, and the club mosses, most venerable of all the evergreens.
We gather them now, even as the ancients gathered them reaching for the reassurance of enduring green life at the time of the winter solstice. For the pines and their whole family were old when the first man saw them. Millions of years old, even, even at a time when millions of years had no meaning. When we gather them we are reaching back, back into the deep recesses of time. But, even as the ancients, we are reaching for reassurance, for the beauty of the living green but also for that green itself, the green of life that outlasts the gray winds, the white frosts, and the glittering snow of winter.
So we bring in the pine, the spruce, the hemlock - and now, because of the cultivation of Christmas trees on a wide scale, we do so without desecrating the natural forest. We bring the festoons of ground pine and partridgeberry, feeling a kinship with enduring things. They help us to catch, if only briefly, that needed sense of hope and understandable eternity.
- Hal Borland, 1979