Friday, December 23, 2005

love tree

reposted from 11 December 2005, on another, lamer, blog site:

I don’t have a problem with Christmas. I loathe the inflatable decorations, and I could live without all the “Christmas is about the children” crap, but to each his own. My Christmas is about a tree, some presents, some good food and drink. It isn’t about Jesus and God, and it sure as hell isn’t about the children –at least, not especially. It’s a time of year when you get to have a little frantic fun, show the people close to you that you’re thinking about them, and remember stuff. That’s about it.

When I was a kid, we always had a real Christmas tree. Mom and Dad would drive us in the Volkswagon beetle to hunt down and kill our own tree at Horton’s Tree Farm. Toronto’s streets were slushy, but at Horton’s Tree Farm, there was endless snow. It always felt like my face was going to freeze off. We’d locate the Perfect Tree, and then Dad or my sister would chop it down and we’d drag it back to the lodge, where we’d have hot apple cider or hot chocolate and hot maple syrup candy, hardened in snow to a chewy consistency.

At home, Mom put lights on the tree, swearing the whole time as the needles pricked her hands and forearms. Then the ornaments would go up. Our ornaments were always old things that we’d had forever. Nothing fancy. Tarnished glass balls. Tinsel.

Later, these old things were gradually replaced by things that Paul brought to our family, or by new things that he and Mom collected. They started buying things when they were traveling, and occasionally added items to commemorate events or to remember a pet that had passed away. I had my own tree, wherever I was living, but I always tried to join Mom and Paul for the decorating of their tree. With all the memories and stories coming out of the box of decorations, tree decoration at Mom and Paul’s gradually became a special, annual event of its own. A nice dinner, some music, some wine, and with each ornament, a story or remembrance. I loved this event so much, I kept my own tree quite bare for the first few years. I limited my ornaments to lights and glass balls and a few new ornaments each year. I decided to let the collection grow through experiences, so each new ornament would signify some part of my life.

This is the tradition I brought South with me, when I moved here.

Luther had bought an artificial tree and lights and some plastic ornaments, so that he could have Christmas for his kids, when they came to visit him. When I joined him here, the artificial tree got replaced with a real one. We “hunted it down” at Home Depot with the kids, and brought it home on the roof of the little Subaru Justy. Then the ornaments from both little families were merged.

Last night, I decorated our tree of memories. Lights first, strands surviving from both our households. Stars next, the Georgia wire frame star up top, and the shiny filigree one from Toronto just below, perched in the branches. Luther teased me about having any star up top, since I am not a Christian. I don’t believe in God, I said, but I believe in stars!

After the lights and stars, the plastic balls go up. They mean more to me than any of the other ornaments. They are from such a difficult and sweet time, when Luther was alone and apart from the children he loves so much, purchased very much to say to them, “I’ll always love you.”

I’m glad that I’m able to share my tradition with him. I’m gladder still to have my Christmas tree filled with the love he feels for his family, along with the love I feel for my own. That’s what Christmas is about, to me. Some frantic fun, some time with family, and a pretty tree full of memories.

No comments: