“All alone in the night, beneath stars glowing bright, the tree heard a voice say aloud, ‘because you are bent, broken, and small, you are the most beloved of all—for the love that’s inside is a gift that you hide, let it shine forth on this night!
And would you believe, on that Christmas Eve the Littlest Tree looked toward Heaven, and the light from a star, from heavens so far, caused the Littlest Tree to remember the Light from above and its message of love on that special night last December! And the hill glowed that night, for the tree’s love shined bright. And happiness fell all around.
Excerpts from “The Littlest Christmas Tree” by Richard K. Conant
Tis the Season, darlings! Time to pick your own First Christmas Tree!
This isn’t your family tree. It’s not your crazy metallic dorm tree. This is your first tree, the one you care about, the one that sets precedents for ones to come. This first tree is yours. No tree will ever be the best, and shouldn’t be, but this tree, this first Christmas tree, it will always be the beginning, the heart of all your Christmases to build upon. Your first tree.
Evergreen trees have been sacrosanct to all ancient peoples. The ever-bearing boughs that live through all seasons have been worshipped by Summarians, Druids, Pagans, early Christian monks, and blasphemed by Cromwellians in early century England. Our own Puritans in the not yet colonies abhorred the observance of Christmas, most of all Pagan trees or boughs. Yet, the observance of Christmas and of solstice, is centered on the sacred evergreen tree. It is a tree of life, of hope for the future, of honor for the past. In my house this tree is a celebration—the celebration of the birth of Christ. Our trees aren’t as fancy and highly decorated as in the past; we have changed our ideas about trimming our tree and have made many of our own ornaments for the last seven years. I think we have decided what we need and what we want are the same. The unadorned boughs seem more majestic in their natural beauty. Of course we choose to include favorite, memory-filled ornaments from Christmases past. And lights, you must have lights, to show the way in the dark, to illuminate the joy you feel and to give guiding light to those who are lost.
So, your first ever tree, halleluiah! I am a huge (as in lost puppy kind of) fan of itty-bitty lopsided, no-one-is-ever-going-to-buy-this tree, and “Why did you assholes cut this tweeny weeny tree down” kind of person. I am the Charlie Brown tree person. It is so hard for me to pass these trees up. I make excuses to my family; “We can set it up outside and coat it with peanut butter and bird seed. Or…or…or, we can put it the backyard to make shelter for the birds, mice, gophers, and critters of all ilk.” Pssst, no matter if you only have a small apartment balcony, you can coat these little trees with honey and peanut butter and give sustenance to birds through the long dark winter.
I am the Christmas tree hippie. I love them all. The soaring cascade of the elegant Noble Fir, the lacy, soul-stirring limbs of the North Carolina Frasier Fir; my own somewhat scruffy, but beloved, Florida long leaf white pine, sticky with oozing sap; the grandfather of Christmas trees, the Douglas Fir. I cherish every one of them. I cry when I see the leftover trees after Christmas.
I feel my soul is connected to each of my trees, glimmering in the dark, filling me with the promise of the season. Each time we take down our tree I am filled with sadness and a bit of lonesomeness, but the Christmas magic of the tree stays with me. When we are in Hatteras, N.C., I drag my tree to the edge of sand and water to help rebuild dunes because I want the joy my tree gave me to contribute to something beyond me and mine. Nature helping nature, and I know, it’s weird, but it is remembrance and connection for me. Sometimes I chop them them into firewood and as I burn those pieces in the fireplace, I remember and am thankful. I have kept most of the foot pieces of all our family trees, with the year and where we were written on the bottom. Odd, yes. I really don’t know what to do with all these small pieces of history, but I imagine my daughters and their families having a grand bonfire someday, and they will remember the trees of our family Christmases, telling the stories, and smelling the heavenly fragrant aromas of long ago.
Whether or not you celebrate the Christ in Christmas, I urge you to find a tree. Adorn it with pieces of your heart, memories past, links to yesterdays and tomorrows. Gild it with bits of you and yours; the name tag from your first pet, that irridescent cardinal feather you found last spring, the sky blue robin egg that never hatched, or a perfect glistening shell picked up in the ebbing tide. Stories, memories, small gifts perched on magnificient graceful boughs, or tucked into tiny branches of a forlorn Charlie Brown tree; history, very ancient, invites you to ward off the dark, fill the present with joy and peace, and celebrate the promised coming of hope for brighter tomorrows.
“…freshly cut Christmas trees smelling of stars and snow and pine resin- inhale deeply and fill your soul with wintry light… “
—John Geddes, “A Familiar Rain”
Have a very merry Christmas my sweet darlings!
Mother of Katie & Hope, Cyndi learned how to cook through trial and error and her own natural gifts. She’s spent her life fattening up her kids, husband, horses, dogs, cats, fish, and yes even gerbils at one point. She’s a traditional Southern lady with a healthy dose of mermaid tendencies and tree hugging dirt worshiping. At a solid 5 feet tall, Cyndi’s spent her whole life with a big opinions, big trucks, and big dogs, and yes, maybe she has a Napoleon complex, but it’s ok, she’s passed it on to her daughters. She never met a critter she didn’t love, a child she didn’t spoil, or a meal she didn’t want to make.[divider] [/divider]
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I, too, am a Charlie Brown Christmas tree-type girl! They’re so cute when they’re sparse and lopsided. Beautiful writing.
—Haley, Managing Editor