Thursday, December 18, 2014


Advent Quiet Thursday: The Tree

It's a hard day to stay away from politics, given that yesterday President Obama both normalized relations with Cuba and issued a round of clemency grants.  But, I will resist…

One of my favorite things about this time of the year is having a tree in the house.  It's a live, green tree by the front window.  When I pulled it through the front door, it was still cold-- I could feel the cold from a few inches away, emanating from the trunk.

At one level, there is something deeply weird about bringing a live tree into the house.  Usually, we respect a clear line on that: People live inside, while trees live outside.  But that's what makes it special and good and different.

The last thing I do before going up to bed is see that tree.  It is everything that this season should be, this unusual season.

When you brought it into the house, it was no longer alive! That is, unless it is in a tub, rooted in soil. A cut tree has died!

Not that I am a radical on this. But due to allergies, etc., we have not had a cut tree in 30+ years due to allergies in the next generation.
For the past few weeks the sidewalks of Manhattan are again lined with live tree vendors and every single time I pass them, that wonderful pine smell brings back very specific, vivid memories. At Christmas THE TREE was a constant source of wonderment and delight. I do relate to those few moments of awe and quiet in front of the tree before going to bed. When I left Romania many years ago I was only allowed two medium sized suitcases for all my belongings. At the time I didn't know if and when I would return. My mom insisted I take a kilim rug she wanted me to have and I insisted I wanted all my Christmas tree ornaments...not much room for anything else. And so my material life as a brand new immigrant in the land of everything started with my mom's kilim rug and my treasured Christmas tree ornaments.
Side note about the potential for Christmas tree related allergies; a plastic tree one “recycles” every year harbors a million allergen chances in every single little plastic needle that your vacuum cleaner could not have possibly reached. And if that problem is resolved by acquiring a new plastic tree every year (and I've seen that on the sidewalks of Manhattan as well) then a talk about live trees being dead should switch to the environment dying a slow death, one plastic tree at a time. I just had a heated discussion with a bunch of colleagues who ganged up on me (all Europeans) about “live trees” and how barbaric the custom to cut them down and then discard them. In Europe, unlike in America (and Canada) they do not always have Christmas tree farms. Christmas tree farms have a very well time established growth cycle, a sustainable crop that provides oxygen year round and come Christmas time wonderful memories, not to mention put food on the table for the families who tend the trees. Ah, yes, the argument about the sad demise of dried up trees abandoned at the curb! Well, unlike plastic trees, dead “live trees” are an organic matter the environment absorbs and happily recycles.
Marta, I believe you chose well. . . Christmas ornaments are precious as are their remembrances - 'yester' year, today and tomorrows - especially during moments when a 'Baby's First Christmas' ornament (or other similar) is being shown to a grandchild by your children and the special significance is shared through their words. . .
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