People are beginning to read and respond to my first book A Bird and the Dragon: Their Love Story: A Memoir. The reviews on Amazon.com are very positive so my message is seeping into the public consciousness. And, you ask me, what message is that? I have to answer; families and the preciousness of the family unit whether it is conventional or modern, conceived or constructed. A family needs to be a safe place where everyone has a chance to grow and mature to the best of their talents: a retreat of sorts from the world. And surprisingly there is buried in there the message of mortality. Mortality is not just a Christian value. In my upbringing I was taught that as long as someone loves you and remembers your life you are indeed immortal.
So how does the Christmas tree figure into this message? Over the eons the evergreen tree has been used to symbolize the concept of eternal life. These trees never totally drop their foliage. Now to this we add the archetype of the mother as the nurturing center of the family (an archetype is a concept that is central to all peoples) and we get this picture of the green tree with roots well anchored into the earth and the foliage reaching to the blessings of water and light from above, the job of the father. The Christmas tree then becomes a fitting symbol to represent our need to believe in ongoing life at the time of year when in the northern hemisphere we have the least amount of natural light and depression can come knocking. The Christmas tree becomes a promise that life continues even in the darkness. Today we add electric lights to our trees and in the past the light came from candle light—another symbol of vitality.
Instead of talking about our family’s Christmas trees over the years I wanted to show them to you in a series of pictures. My daughters learned early on that their mother wanted the most pregnant looking tree she could find and my husband Sy never complained at the waiting for the perfect pick or for the weight of carrying the tree out of the forest. Once he did say, “You are aware that this tree is going to fill the living room?” Good old engineering mind—he was right! But with giggles and laughter we squeezed in around the tree for our holiday.
As the children have grown older the trees have grown smaller and are stored in the closet when out of season. Time in a family moves on and now it is the grandchildren who come to help Grandmother (Me?) decorate the the artificial table-top tree. The excitement, the fingering of the old ornaments, and the hot chocolate are just as great as they were in 1977!