December 29, 2003
Year Without a Tree
I went to the post office and mailed off 482 holiday cards like I do every year around this time - the card numbers go down every year as sadly more and more convert to e-cards that clog my inbox. Little joy in it this year though - no grandfather to call and ask plumbing, heating, gardening or cooking questions to. No annual holiday party. No singalongs or bake-offs. I even decided against a Christmas tree, which has always been a traditional ritual for me - almost always, maybe even always.
I think I even created one out of twigs and broken tree parts when I worked on an Israeli kibbutz in 85. Ex-husband Michael and I bought a Walmart version to put in a Florida hotel room the year we moved south. And in Africa, friends gathered around the American to present her with a tree as a hospitality gift. Has there ever been another year without a tree?
A woman with fewer and fewer traditions as the years go by, decorating a tree with the First Christmas Album for children playing in the background always seemed to renew my soul at just the time it needed renewing.
I entered the Mass Pike reflecting on American small town traditions - trees, gifts, pies, cookies, parties, cocktail receptions, dances, singing, laughter. Around me, just rain and traffic on the New York thruway.
I decided to head to the City, away from small town house lights, high snowbanks, children playing in the streets and the sound of church bells ringing. New York - the place I love escaping to when I need inspiration. Funny that amidst all of the City's clutter, I always discover inspiration, hope, anonymity, energy, boundless cultures, music and intensity. Perhaps not serenity or clarity but joy in a noisy, full and endless way.
I stayed with Israeli friends just outside Manhatten, who gave me an adorable dancing stuffed bear that sang Singing in the Rain when you pushed his umbrella. Upon arrival, I had five glasses of wine, a four course meal and crashed in their spacious walk in closet on a blow-up with the dogs.
I had forgotten just how much Israelis eat, particularly around the holidays. Every two hours, plates came flying out of the kitchen, full of overflowing olives, various kinds of cheese, dark chocolates filled with dangerously sweet liquors, cakes, meats, salads, breads, humous and other pates and spreads.
It turns out that we really can create our own family if we choose to, wherever we are. We can even find new grandfathers and grandmothers when we lose our own, or a child whose life we can bring more meaning to than life itself.
Whatever we create in our minds with as much emotional intensity, will find its way into our lives. Where our intent is, is where we land. In the midst of Israeli energy, I was reminded that when you are trying to survive, nothing flows to you. This Israel couple chose creation over survival and it showed in so many aspects of their lives. Flow must happen for growth to happen. Growth is necessary for life, necessary to reach our goals and fulfill our dreams. Our life destiny is merely what we touch and what we contribute.
It’s Christmas 2003 and yes I missed the warmth and comfort that the lights and memories of my tree and the history of the ornaments. I missed listening to Red Skeleton's Christmas Tree and the Littlest Snowman with the Red Candy Heart. I missed hearing a small American town’s church bell ring. And mostly, I missed hearing my grandfather’s gruff voice, ordering me to clear the table and “get him a piece of pumpkin pie with a cup of tea.”
But I didn’t spend Christmas day alone and I didn’t spend it without warmth or lights. Loves comes on surrender. Loves comes from being. Love comes when you are open to receiving. Love comes when you have gratitude. Love comes when you forgive. Love comes when you allow yourself to be. Just be.
A site I frequent, Kididdles.com, has a thread where people are looking for that LP. Have you ever seen it on CD anywhere? Or more particularly the Red Skelton piece you mention? At least 4 or 5 other folks remember it very fondly....look here:
Posted by: Greg Brady | Jan 5, 2005 5:45:10 AM
It's okay. It's not the material displays that counts. It's the thought of the celebration.
Posted by: renaissance dresses | May 16, 2010 9:54:05 PM