As December melts into Christmas & the holiday rush transitions to the new year, I wanted to spend some time today reflecting on the true reason for the season.
The snap above showcases La Familia Scribe's Christmas tree. You can see, right off the bat, that this sure isn't a Fraser Fir from the downtown Rotary lot. No, we abandoned the typical for a new famly tradition 4 Christmases ago.
Because of allergies, hassles & fear of fire~I know not one, but 2 families whose houses burned to the ground during the 3rd week in December during my childhood~we opted for an artificial tree in Christmas 2005. But we didn't go for the plastic greenery that so many of our friends had favored over the years. We went aluminum.
This retro tree design, first manufactured in Manitowoc, Wisconsin in 1958, is the ultimate in chic '50s decor. When they first came out, aluminum trees were viewed as icons of the future. But sadly, they eventually came to represent the over-commercialization of Christ's birthday. Most of you probably remember how the glittery aluminum tree was so disparaged in that TV classic, A Charlie Brown Christmas.
My family prefers to characterize our embracing of Christmas kitsch as a novel way to save the environment. We wanted to go green in a funky way & think our 4-foot tree~which stands on the living room coffee table & is illuminated by a revolving color wheel, not lights~is a statement. We're not commercializing Christmas, but stepping back to a simpler time, when folks thought a little touch of the Jetsons meant they were hip to all the possibilities life has to offer.
I have to say, as well, that the shiny yet understated aluminum showcases our ornaments~family heirlooms & kiddy art alike~in the best possible light. My grandmother's German swan, making its delicate presence known in the snap above, is a case in point. When I was a kid, we had at least a Baker's Dozen of MawMaw's ornaments from the old country. My childhood home also had a cathedral ceiling & it was par for the course for Daddy & the kids to go Christmas tree shopping & come back with a 2-story beauty.
We lost all of MawMaw's ornaments but the swan in a catastrophic accident the Christmas I was 10. My kitty had a hissy fit & decided to run up that too-tall tree. He became entangled in the lights, and, well, you can guess the rest. The tree went topsy-turvy, in a spectacular cacophany of limbs & living room furniture. And no, my grandmother's ornaments did not survive the tumble. Except for the swan, which is well over 100 years old now, the rest were smashed to smithereens.
Every year I wait for both My Peeps to be home before we decorate our little tree. That tradition unfolded last night, as we hauled out boxes & unwrapped Christmas treasure. Of course, the swan has a place of honor, ensconced front & center within the faux silvery branches.
MawMaw's swan means Christmas to me.
Everyone crowded around the dining room table is another tangible tradition. But we don't rush & force everyone to gather on the 25th. We won't have all our family & friends with us this year until the weekend, so Sunday it is. We'll spend tomorrow reflecting & then probably eat Chinese food & take in a flick. Then Sunday will feature our feast to end all feasts. After all, it's not the date that's important this time of year, it's the company one keeps.
Another Scribe tradition is remembering the departed and commemorating the service of others. Today is the one-year anniversary of our friend Yoshio's senseless murder in DC. We plan to contribute our time & some of our limited financial resources to helping Miriam's Kitchen, the DC facility that helped Yoshio & his friends sort out the meaning of their lives.
There's one more thing I'm going to be thinking real hard on. A friend of Ella Numera Una's is serving in Northern Iraq. He won't be home for almost a year. I can't dig deep enough for the words to express what Mike's family feels right now. Pride & fear are a powerful combination.
I read a post yesterday at a blog called blackberries to apples. This young Alabamian has been in New York City for a year. She wrote about returning home to Birmingham & the unexpected feelings she had after witnessing the most poignant of events~the return of a fallen soldier from the battlefield to his family.
Christmas means so many things. I'd hate to spoil the holiday with a cliché. But I like to look beyond the obvious, especially this time of year. Have a Happy, y'all.