Top of my small holiday tree, the Angel of Light seems to be winking at pictures of my Granddaughter Jianna Rose when she was a new toddler, on the wall. Am getting acclimated to having a smaller, Granny-size holiday tree. Not willing to give it up just because there are no longer little children around here and money's gotten tighter for everyone. No good reason to compromise, that I can figure? My youngest son, now way grown, and I, will be taking it down very soon.
The glass birds w/peacock feathers, from Marini's Downtown, are new this year. The gold and copper colored decorated eggs are new last year. The colorful paper chain is at least seven years old, made when there WERE children running around "here." That somehow survived all my stresses, illnesses, and moving; packing an unpacking times. I love peacocks (despite their howl), and I love the Art Deco French associations that come with images of peacocks and their hens.
Angel of Light's apparent holding a mirror ball was, happenstance and 'trick of eye'. I like it thus, as tho' protecting our planet and all the Divine light it has gathered.
I generally do NOT support the harvesting and killing of trees for Christmas, and so have had a potted, knotted, crooked little stem of a tree for years, a gift from Uncle Joe. He brought it from this ridge to my little pidgeon coop in the city, heartening a bleak holy season years ago. But THIS year it had grown way too heavy to be moving into and out of the home. Or even onto the porch.
It will have to be returned to it's forest, or at least transplanted into the earth, very soon. The little holiday tree pictured here was among a knot of babies, under an evergreen at the edge of Redwood Forest, 2nd growth. We were able to "take" it in the spirit of cultivation, rather than consumerism. Luckily! So I don't feel bad about it's cutting.
A little tree is, I find in 2009, easier to include in the home environment and to incorporate in the live-cherishing affirmations of our Hearth. And it's easier to enjoy, very directly. takes nothing from the awe and the remembering, the Yule Log's spark, keeping and bringing light (and heat) through winter. It's easy with electricity virtually a given, to forget natural cycles.
While my daughter was still in college, she and I talked about Solstice. Anthropology, culture, what did it mean, before? We agreed -- she provided references and citations to other times and cultures about this -- that MEANING during the winter holy days includes a sense of community sharing. Of visiting the isolated, feeding someone hungry, warming anyone cold we see; of singing to the grumpy and despairing, in short -- keeping down the S.A.D. and helping each other through everything necessary until the warmth of sunshine returned more fully.
Modern and compartmentalized life gets us "off the hook" to a very large sense; we no longer feel mutually responsible for the welbeing of our immediate physical communities. In this sense, maybe we're all Scrooges? Perhaps a gesture, even a small one, even just a symbolic one beyond the star or angel on our Holy Day , is called for?
By sharing our family's Christmas Tree this way, I am also confessing my love of christ, Jesus, because that's part of the meaning for me in this ritual. I know it isn't everyone's meaning, that's OK with me -- still it is a beautiful and cultural and widespread activity. Thinking about the tree as living, and symbolic of enduring life, helped me get over the pathos of not BUYING a Christmas Tree from curbside or superstore lots. It is a decision I HAD to face, after that mom-daughter dialogue.
We can all do a little something to represent keeping of life, rather than going alaong with unnecessary materializing, marketing, even mauling of trees as tho' life were a disposable commodity. For me, this is very important. I used to believe I'd have to give up having a Christmas Tree, once I began understanding, knowing, trees in general as living beings whom we NEED to support the lives of, wisely, for our own sakes. I was wrong, mistaken in my "finite" thinking. It is so wonderous, special. For me eventually "the scales fell away" from my vision and I am still graced with this holy tradition, and it has a greater depth of meaning than was ever known to me before. It is a process, out of time and off the calendar, of listening to silence.
I am also declaring my faith and hope and joy about our -- everyone's -- futures, using the special tree in our home as emblematic. Faith in our planet's future, and in our ability to become wiser about God's intentions for us as this place's stewards. With each memento or ornament or object or ribbon, go my prayers for our future wisdom, for our decisions and actions, and for our children's legacy -- life itself. The "decorating" carries spoken wishes as each ornament and each trim makes it way into our little tree.
Thus, tree becoming temporarily my rosary. It is a rocky road at times, but just as I sometimes seek the North Star, so I will keep up these winter traditions of carrying the light and warmth "over the hump" of a long, cold, mid-winter night every year.
Closeup of Angel of Light at Linda's Hearth, Christmas 2009
also called Gloria, Messenger Angel -- of the joyful chorus in Heaven one Bethlehem night
I finally can get our Turkey for Thanksgiving
cooked predictably right!
It took decades as a mom to get this down.
Kudos to all the grandmothers' patience with me.