Dozer, the bulldog

Dozer, the bulldog
Dozer: Spring training is upon us!

Backstage at Reggae on the River, 2017...

Backstage at Reggae on the River, 2017...
The author of Mark's Work

Hollyhocks

Hollyhocks
Why I grow flowers

HappyDay Farms bees are happy bees.

HappyDay Farms bees are happy bees.
Air-borne bees

HeadSodBuster and BossLady at the coast

HeadSodBuster and BossLady at the coast
Love is the greatest power.

Beauty abounds!

Beauty abounds!
Crossing the Eel River at French's Camp

If you've seen one butterfly, you've seen 'em all, said no one ever.

If you've seen one butterfly,  you've seen 'em all, said no one ever.
Butter in the fly...

July Jewels

July Jewels
Bees to the Kingdom

My souvenir from Reggae on the River, 2017

My souvenir from Reggae on the River, 2017
Something I have always wanted...

Mahlon Masling Blue

Mahlon Masling Blue
My friend and brother.

Mark's E-mail address

bellspringsmark@gmail.com

Saturday, October 29, 2011

A Collection of Christmas Reflections #4: O Tannenbaum

This is the fourth in a series of Christmas reflections.

O Tannenbaum
Is there a more identifying feature of Christmas than the Yule tree?  The only Christmas day of my life which did not contain a Yule tree was the December I spent in Korea, and even then, when I returned home on leave on January 5, 1973, the tree remained in place in the front dining room on Fellowship Street.
I was due to leave Korea on January 8th, but since the 8th was a Monday, I had made a slight adjustment on my orders, so that they now read January 5th as the day I was supposed to leave.  Coincidentally, the 5th was a Friday, so I left after work, and no one noticed.  Walking through the front door on Fellowship Street, and realizing that the tree was still up, in honor of my return home, was an uplifting experience.  
The Christmas tree represents a connection between when we were kids, and Christmas was the penultimate occasion of the year, and now, when the amount of attention given to the Holidays, depends on what else is going on around us.   During the years of teaching, we went each year on the last Friday afternoon before the big day, up Bell Springs Road to the “Christmas Tree Farm.”
After we added on the living room with the ten foot high ceiling, I insisted that the tree match its environment.  When we went searching for a tree in those days, we were looking for a tall, well filled-out tree, which filled the whole bay window of our lower living room.  With the three different seven-feet-high windows reflecting back the sparkling lights, the lower living room was transformed into a  panoramic Holiday scene, and it set the stage for our two-week sojourn from the rigors of the classroom.
Yes, it overwhelmed our living space, but we let it, spreading the gifts out on the red, glittery spread beneath the tree, and crawling to the base each morning to fill the reservoir with spring water, to help keep the tree fresh.  The pine scent permeated the air, and wafted upstairs, aided by the branches of fir that lined the railing on the way up the steps. 

On that Friday that ushered in the celebratory part of Christmas, Annie used to present our annual tree-decorating feast, which consisted of only finger foods, all elaborately planned and prepared to coincide with outfitting the tree with its colorful ensemble.  Hang a glittering red ball, munch a stuffed mushroom.  Dangle some tinsel, crunch some shrimp.  Attach an elf, snag a little smoky sausage, and so it went, until both the tree and our stomachs were maxed out, filled to the point of bursting.
On the television we would be watching one of a collection of Holiday classics, selected in advance, so as to complete the evening’s entertainment.  Our only consideration was the ongoing possibility that snow would interfere with tree hunt, because farther up the road, the elevation made it more likely that we would encounter the white stuff.
The year I blew my knee out on Friday, December Thirteenth, when we went to acquire the tree the following Friday, I was on crutches, and the snow was impossibly deep.  We had floundered our way up to the Christmas Tree Farm, at the ten-mile-mark, only because the road had been well-packed before us.  Now, as we maneuvered our way slowly around, we found that the steadily falling snow had obliterated any chance we had of selecting a tree, based on anything other than size-and luck.
We could see whether a tree was tall or not; we just couldn’t tell if it was aesthetically pleasing or more of the Charley Brown variety.  In either case we made our selection, cut it down with the bow saw, and placed it in the bed of the truck, nestled in the snow.  I couldn’t drive because I couldn’t depress the clutch with my knee being injured, but Annie did an admirable job, gliding and sliding our way down the driveway, to deposit us and the tree in front of the house.  Anytime we drive a vehicle down to the house from Bell Springs Road in the snow, we risk the possibility that we will not be able to get back out until after the storm passes and the snow melts.

I used to say, “The only time I don’t mind being snowed in is the first day of Christmas Vacation.”  This particular year Mother Nature listened and obliged.

3 comments:

  1. I don't know , Markie.... I am still not getting the whole Christmas thing all together..... I've been thinking about it and trying to get the whole thing. I will do the tree thing for other people but not for me. If I lived alone, I would definitely decorate for the season but it would be uber simple - some lights, some branches, and the best of the Christmas music and movies would play, The festivities begin the day school gets out or on December 19th, whichever comes first (this year school doesn't get out until 12/22). The festivities wrap up around 12/29 or 30 with New Year's being a whole different scene. And, no, New's Year Eve is nothing special in my book either. I'm really not a bah humbug sort of person. I do not want to squelch anyone else's party - I'm just saying, I don't see much of what others see in those two weeks. But I am willing to have my eyes opened. Looking forward to the next pieces in the series....

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  2. Great pieces, Mark, I'm enjoying them all. I recall several occasions driving up Bell Springs Road on a cold December day to score just the right tree to celebrate the season. Funny, they all seemed so much scrawnier once we brought them into the house! We continued that tradition in Santa Rosa by harvesting at a local Christmas Tree farm but by the time we reached Hilo Lei-chan came up with the novel idea of just buying a potted Norfolk pine from the nursery and re-using it every year. That worked fine for several years, as long as we kept transplanting it into bigger pots and topping it judiciously, but finally it outgrew our living room and so we planted it in the back yard. Last time I drove past I could see it from the street towering over the house, a good 60 feet tall. After that we bought a Portuguese Cypress which was a little fuller and and that worked well until it too grew too big for its britches and was moved out into THAT yard which I'm sure it prospered in. By the way, on Fellowship Street I seem to recall routinely leaving our Christmas tree up until the Feast of Epiphany which was Jan 6, mostly because we had waited until Christmas Eve to buy it (when the trees were seriously discounted). One of our annual adolescent rituals was waiting until after New Years when all the neighbors had put their discarded dried up trees out with the trash and gathering several at them late at night at the intersection of Fellowship and Hartview. Someone would put a lighter to them and WHOOOOOSH!!! you never seen such a grand spectacle in your life, they'd go off like a goddamned rocket!

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  3. Sure the Bell Springs Road trees were [are] scrawny, but never was [is] scrawny so beautiful. Designer Christmas trees are fine for those who need them, but the rest of the universe is on JT's agenda: keep it simple with an appropriate time frame that works for you, with some lights, branches, music and movies. I agree with New Years Day being good for very little except football on the tolerasion and poker playing. So Tom, that little tradition on the corner of Fellowship Street and Hartview sounds like it was a hot item. Charlie must have had a front row seat, since she lived on the corner. We will have to ask her. Nothing like shedding a little light on the subject of Christmas.

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