Tag Archives: Christmas tree

Christmas is always today’s gift.

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For Christmas decor, I give you these lighted redwood trees in my town.

Because at my house, there is a wreath on the front door, and one on the playhouse door, and that’s it! I am so busy planning and packing for a long trip, starting with Christmas at Pearl’s in Wisconsin, that I had no room in my mind or schedule for more than that.

I’m not even baking! Soldier and his family were just here for a couple of days and I found a Sugar Plum Cake from last Christmas in the freezer, to eat for breakfast. It’s a stöllen sort of bread, the recipe for which was handed down from my Aunt Bettie; the grandchildren particularly liked the little colored bits in it.

If I were going to be home this year, I’d certainly find a new cookie recipe in this book which was gifted to me by one of the children:

But I’m not, so I’ll share a few cookies and cookie stories from the past:

Two recipes from my cookie tray

A traditional seedy one

I don’t think I love Christmas as much as my late husband did, but I enjoyed all the aspects of preparing and shopping better when he was still around. And his voice leading us in carol-singing! Oh yes.

For almost twenty years I’ve been learning about the riches of the Orthodox Church, which include an appreciation for the Incarnation on a level I never found elsewhere. It’s thrilling to focus on Christ’s Nativity this month, but the story of a baby in a manger would become boring after a few years if it were merely a historic event to think about. The soul requires more than thought, more than history, and this holy feast is an event that we can abide in the way the branch abides in the Vine. It makes possible our participating in that Life, in the ever arriving Today.

What happens in the present is connected in lovely and helpful ways to the past by what we retain and remember. Here are two more articles from the archives, on Christmasy things:

What Christmas trees teach

Reading the Nativity icon

Tradition is a word that comes up a lot during holiday seasons. Some people find great comfort in keeping customs like baking cookies and visiting Santa, but at the same time try to craft their own individual version of fundamental human personhood. I found this little Facebook posting to be thought-provoking:

Every human being born into this world starts as a traditionalist. What we have, what we begin with, is handed down to us from everyone and everything that has gone before. The rejection of that tradition is not only absurd, it is ungrateful. [Tradition is] also inescapable. We cannot become self-created. What we have is a gift. What we are is revealed as we fulfill that gift.

Be thankful. You are God’s gift to the world.

-Father Stephen Freeman

From each Christmas to the next, and every day in between,
“God is with us!”

We play, eat, and cut a tree.

While the Thanksgiving dinner was cooking, I was surprhonking 14ised to have so many opportunities for my lap to be piled with two or three grandchildren. They were “honking” my nose, and later switched to “ringing” my ears. Is everyone familiar with this game? If someone squeezes your nose, you say “honk!” with every squeeze. With the ears, they pull, and you say, “Ding ding ding!”

 

potatoes 14

plaid tower of boy

The younger grandchildren also liked to have attention from their older cousins or aunts and uncles, as in being toted by a tall cousin also wearing plaid (90% of the males wore plaid shirts that day), but on a regular basis the two 2-year-olds seemed to just need a Grandma Lap where they could escape from the noise and get some peace and quiet.

Iris pie 14

 

whipping cream

The day after Thanksgiving Soldier and Joy were off to cut a Christmas tree on public lands (permit cost $10) so some of the rest of us went with them.

It was a way to maximize the time our distantly scattered family could spend together, though it still came out too too short. If the holiday had to come to an end, we were pleased that it happened in the forest with us all smelling the freshly rain-soaked and piney air.

M & WCM & Frank 14

P & tree 14

Not a single place dark or unhappy.

We have been ill around our house, and could not get going on the Christmas tree project until this week. Now we managed to get it up and decorated.

I cut off our homemade wood-shaving angel in the picture so I’m showing a close-up in the next. Mr. Glad did nearly all the tree-trimming this time, after he went all by himself to get the tree, a Noble Fir grown in Oregon.

 

Anna wrote last week about various Advent and Christmas trees she has known, and it made me want to remember some trees of the past. Her post includes a photograph of a large and dramatic Christmas tree in Norway.

 

I don’t have anything that old, but at right is a picture of me in a red sweater in front of a 1950’s tree. And at the bottom of the page, a little tree that the sister in the photograph gave me more recently. I like best to have birds and fruit and pine cones on my tree, and I never did like tinsel.

The boy at left (now our Soldier) is posing by a tree from a minimalist era, when a friend let us cut from his property a wild and untamed specimen, on which we don’t appear to have strung lights. But how strange and exciting for young children to have a tree in the house for a while, even undecorated.

Below, this year’s tree before trimming, to go with a sweet poem e.e. cummings wrote.

little tree
little silent Christmas tree
you are so little
you are more like a flower

who found you in the green forest
and were you very sorry to come away?
see i will comfort you
because you smell so sweetly

i will kiss your cool bark
and hug you safe and tight
just as your mother would,
only don’t be afraid

look the spangles
that sleep all the year in a dark box
dreaming of being taken out and allowed to shine,
the balls the chains red and gold the fluffy threads,

put up your little arms
and i’ll give them all to you to hold
every finger shall have its ring
and there won’t be a single place dark or unhappy

then when you’re quite dressed
you’ll stand in the window for everyone to see
and how they’ll stare!
oh but you’ll be very proud

and my little sister and i will take hands
and looking up at our beautiful tree
we’ll dance and sing
“Noel Noel”

–e.e. cummings