Christmas tree + more

Are you seeking the gifts of Poetry Friday this week?
It is generously hosted at LIVE YOUR POEM by kind Irene Latham.
. . .

Inspired by Adrian Fogelin at Slow Dance Journal,
I’m dreaming of Christmas past.


I hope you like the recollections.
My special best Christmas cheer to you!

In my child days my dear Dad walked into the flatwoods just
outside our little red house’s kitchen door, a wide,
double-Dutch door that stood just past the coal-burning
pot-bellied stove, near Quakertown, N.J.

I never said “Hey, Pa, where are you going with that ax?”
I knew where.

He brought back a little tree that he felled by himself. (I wasn’t
allowed to take but a few steps into the woods. I was told the
Jersey Devil might be in there.)
In our second house, set among eight large and flowering dogwood
trees, where I enjoyed Christmas from ages eight to 12, I was
allowed to skitter down into the ravine woods behind our cul-de-sac street
of 10 homes. (Maybe the Jersey Devil had gotten his due.)

But this world of fragrant trees and rushing creek was off limits
for tree-cutting. So we went into the town & brought back a tree
from Dad’s pal, the tree farmer who propped his, leaning on posts,
under lights strung across his wide side yard.

Today in Florida we delight in going to our kind neighbor
whose family still runs a tree farm in the mountains. He
personally brings our tree down here (snuggled with a full
load of other homegrown firs.) The fee for the tree
goes to charity.

And so I sit reading + writing before dawn, in the glow of the magic
of bubbles. Bubbles rising in the bubble lights, bubbles that echo
the old glass bubble lights of my childhood, treasured hand-me-down lights
linked on a frayed old electric cord that miraculously
never caught fire.

The continuation of traditions are what I wrap up most, at Christmas.

Our many angel ornaments, especially the hand-made oyster shell
angel from lively Mrs. Danford, our gal’s 4th grade teacher,
cluster in a choir at the top of the tree.

Although I rarely make a Christmas card these days, I still
like signing a special card for card-exchanging folks.
(Mindful that sending paper is discouraged by some pals
these days.) My annual card is made by a United Nations
artist & carries the message of Peace in as many
languages as possible.

I also continue the tradition of the crèche tableau, although
along the way, the handmade stable of my child days, cut and nailed
by my dear Uncle John, had to be replaced with a wood stable
from a store. And the chipped manger players, who moved with
us from New Jersey to Florida, gave way to a
newer, still reverent, crew.

Our glued, painted and sparkled Popsicle Star of David that
our daughter made at preschool is still a favorite ornament.
As are the nearly 30-year-old hand-made felt creations – Woodstock, Snoopy,
and others, from my crafting sister-in-law, Lynn.
And the ornaments sent by my dear pal Susan, who left our town
for Washington.D.C., feel like a little hug each year I place them on the tree.
I have a sturdy metal star from a dear pal that doesn’t
go on the tree, although it guides me elsewhere in the house.

We often drive highway miles during the holidays, so it’s fun
to sing carols along the way. There are more loving traditions
carried on. But I’ve been up since five (that darn but loveable
Ginger cat!) I’m hungry & want to get into the kitchen & start
a pot of oatmeal, served at the table with glass bowls of nuts & berries,
with a cinnamon shaker nearby. So I’ll close with more thoughts of food. Our Christmas Eve
meal will be homemade seafood dishes. Most likely, 12 separate items. Our daughter’s
passion is baking treats, so aromas wafting from our oven this
time of year include: rosemary shortbread, gingerbread, pecan pie,
sweet potato pie & a special request, fruit cake with papaya &
pineapple nestled in it.

Our new tradition is that as long as they last, we gift special folks with juicy Meyer lemons from our sheltered tree in the side yard. Not a tradition from my child days, but I feel my long passed-on gardening parents are approving of that addition.


8 thoughts on “Christmas tree + more

  1. Jan, I’m originally from NJ and loved all of the New Jersey connections in this post. The Pine Barrens — it’s not so hard to believe in the Jersey Devil when you see that strange landscape.


  2. Thank you so much for sharing all these wonderful memories — I spy about seventeen poems in there! For many many years we cut our tree at a farm, and this year our youngest son was like, I want to do that again! Powerful stuff, these Christmas traditions. Wishing you and yours a merry, merry Christmas, Jan! xo

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sweet visit here with you, Irene.
      Sending my special best cheer for the New Year 2016.

      On a weather note – extra good-weather thoughts for the Birmingham area + you.
      Our gal was held up nearly four hours last nite in Charlotte, due to storm Goliath
      + she wasn’t even headed westward…


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