Enormous Tree

Every year, the Christmas tree gets bigger.

When our first daughter was born we got our first tree, a small one we decorated with jewelry and other shiny household whatnots since we didn’t own any ornaments. We didn’t even know we needed to put it in water and by Christmas day, it had shed most of its needles.

Every year, the tree grows fatter like a well-fed creature (a visitation from nature hulking in the living room; a friendly, furry beast), and every year, we accumulate another ornament; some we make, some were gifts, most have stories, and all seem precious to the girls and when we unwrap the decorations, they oooh and aaah as if they were watching fireworks.  (See pictures of our tree, below.)  In order to maintain that awe and keep up with growing girls the tree must grow, too, like in the Nutcracker ballet when they show Claire shrinking to the size of a mouse by making the tree appear to grow until it towers, engulfing the stage.  Soon, we’re going to have to cut a hole in the ceiling to accommodate the thing.

If we didn’t have kids, I doubt we’d do Christmas at all.  But kids remind us of the effect of light in darkness, of a bone-deep yearning for warmth and comfort, and how wonderful it is to believe in magic.  For dinner last night, we brought our bowls of stew out into the living room and ate in front of the fire. Before bedtime, my little one brought out her blanket and slid herself under the tree so she could look up from the inside.  She said it smelled cold in there and it’s true, the scent is bracing and strangely wild.

Here’s a poem by e.e.cummings called little tree that I read to my girls every year:

little tree

little silent Christmas tree

you are so little

you are more like a flower

who found you in the green forest

and were you very sorry to come away?

see i will comfort you

because you smell so sweetly

i will kiss your cool bark

and hug you safe and tight

just as your mother would,

only don’t be afraid

look the spangles

that sleep all the year in a dark box

dreaming of being taken out and allowed to shine,

the balls the chains red and gold the fluffy threads,

put up your little arms

and i’ll give them all to you to hold

every finger shall have its ring

and there won’t be a single place dark or unhappy

then when you’re quite dressed

you’ll stand in the window for everyone to see

and how they’ll stare!

oh but you’ll be very proud

and my little sister and i will take hands

and looking up at our beautiful tree

we’ll dance and sing

“Noel Noel”

*

Happy solstice to you!

Which part of the holidays do you like most? 

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About girl in the hat

aka Anna Fonté, writer of novels, short stories, personal essays, and bits about the neighborhood crows. The things I write want you to look at them.

24 comments

  1. Happy solstice to you, too, Anna! Happy solstice to all!

    I’m just in love with the desire to do good being okay for a few weeks to all but the seriously, dangerously jaded. I need an excuse to be merry in public so people don’t look at me like I need to be carried away. I want to believe in all the magic even though with every year I realize there isn’t any more of that at this time of year than there is in March or August.

    After that, it’s the music. I listen to Christmas music all year round!

    Thanks for sharing the e. e. cummings poem with us. I’ve never read it before. It sounds like your daughter says the Christmas tree smells.

    • Yes! The music! We’re listening to folksy Irish stuff and Joan Baez around here. Here’s to getting carried away, Re!

    • TP

      >>I realize there isn’t any more of that at this time of year than there is in March or August. <<

      But there isn't any less either. Be merry. When it's dark and cold outside, all the more reason to turn up that inner light.

  2. That poem is so beautiful – just the right fit for a beautiful tree.

  3. I love the what my tree would probably look like photo. :-)

  4. So beautiful! The egg ornaments are adorable. I’m going to have to look up some how-tos on YouTube, and try to make some of my own. But like you, once my nest is empty, I’ll decorate a book tree with colored lights and call it a day.

    • My mom and I invented the method one night over a pile of broken ornaments after a bottle of red wine but of course, you’ll find it online, because no idea is original, right? ;) Happy to share with you if you want.

  5. TP

    That cummings poem put me in the holiday mood like nothing else. Thank you!

  6. elma

    What marvelous decorations and warm poem for the tree that is offered as a gift for happiness and pleasure of all – young and adult alike! You do an excellent job in ensuring an effective balance between happiness shared on both sides (tree and people) and I heard the tree say to me in the silence of silence that he was proud of this exchange :-)
    Congratulations and thank you so much for sharing this traditional event in your own vision.

  7. So lovely to see your decorations!! I’ve never had a Christmas tree as an adult; I’m guessing that yes, we’ll want one once we have our someday kids. For now, though, there’s always the tree at my parents’ house, decorated now with 30 years’ worth of ornaments, sourced from travels, received as gifts, and handmade with glee if not care (a few years ago we finally retired some of the preschool flour-dough and popsicle-stick ones that were falling apart!).

  8. Thanks for the great little poem. I liked your description of your daughter laying down and looking up inside the tree. And saying the “tree grows fatter like a well-fed creature” each year is so true! Thanks

  9. I remember my father complaining bitterly because Christmas tree prices had gone up to a dollar a foot and he’d had to pay EIGHT dollars for our tree. To me, Christmas is the magic of the tree. Without it, without the lights and old, old decorations, each with a story, solstice just wouldn’t be the same. I absolutely love the quiet communing on a deep dark night with the tree. Sitting before it when everyone else is in bed. And of course, still secretly wishing that this year will be the one the nutcracker comes to life and turns into that prince…

  10. Our tree is artificial – but huge and heavy.
    It was always depressing throwing out the
    old one so we invested in a perminent
    resident, (That and our fobia of the house
    catching fire.) every year the tradition starts
    with unpacking the tree and shaping it.
    There are no kids in our household but
    mother considers tree decorating her
    greatest talent. We have all the traditional
    santas and Angels – but fairies and dragons
    dominate. The color skeem is red and gold
    and white.

    The poem reminds me of a small fir tree
    that intended to take up perminent residence
    in my aunt’s house. It was dry and dead when
    they bought it so they added furtilizer to its
    water. It grew two more feet by christmass
    added it’s own blue cones to the oriniments
    and had to be dug out of the floor, the stand
    was totally lost in the mass of roots snaking
    across the living room. They finally banished
    it to the back yard where it remains to this day,
    all twenty five feet of it in counting. It is still a
    very ambitious tree.

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