O, Christmas Tree

Because we’ve been on the road so many Christmases in the last 20 years, we’ve had few Christmas trees. We had a rainy one in the little town of Pucon in Chile, followed by a New Year’s Eve with Ian and Maggy  Campbell at their farm B&B Rangipulli near Temuco. There were other guests, and we sang as I remember, delighted to learn a new round and sing familiar ones.

IMG_4991Several years we were in Mexico, driving through territory all new to us, staying in small hotels as we went along. Often if you went to the church, you’d find a service going on, or people rehearsing. If I sat and drew for a while, in a square, almost surely a group of children would collect, start talking thinking I couldn’t understand, and then delighted as I was when I could actually converse.

On Kauai, Tom’s brother and his wife joined us for a week. Being tropical is reminiscent for us because in 1955 we were in Bangkok, Tom teaching and starting provincial language centers for USIA, and two days after Christmas, our first son, (the current editor of this blog) was born. His first Christmas, in a different house, closer in to Bangkok’s center, we had palm leaves to put the presents on, and Amah gave him a rocking-horse she’d had made.

This tree, the first white pine we’ve ever had, is sweet. It’s graceful and airy with plenty of open spaces for the candles. It was the ice storm last week that provided it for us, snapping it off right where I had guyed it, trying to keep it from leaning southward toward the sun. I was sad and wept when I saw it broken. We’d brought it west as a seedling from Camp Ramleh, the camp Tom’s father started in the ’30s in Rhode Island, one of those summers we drove East and back.

But that same son, Tom, has resurrected it for us all, found the Christmas tree stand down in the barn, put it up where it just touches the ceiling in the living room. The only time you’d dare have candles is when you know the tree is green, almost still alive. And you don’t leave the room while they’re burning. You sit there, rapt with the magic, full of gratitude and glad for the tree that it has this way of ending. And the branch on the part of it that’s left in the woods will curve up to make a new top.

One thought on “O, Christmas Tree

  1. Live candles, so unusual today. In 1966 when we lived for a year in Germany, we spent Christmas with a friends new to me, a mother and son in Buxtehude, near Hanover. Norbert, the son, had been an AFS student at Bob’s Detroit high school, and a good friend. On Christmas Eve Frau Guetling lit the candles. I’d never before seen a candle-lit tree. Such soft, sweet light. The candles heated the small living room; it became rapidly very, very warm. I was wearing my “dress-up dress” a white wool dress. I remember nearly expiring. A pail of sand stood next to the tree, and the candles would be lit only a few times during the holiday. A beautiful memory.

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