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Norwegian Musings and Polish Thoughts

Christmas Trees

Into the Sun -- Oil on Canvas: 12x24

Anyone who has seen the musical Fiddler on the Roof quickly recognizes that the theme of tradition is tightly interwoven throughout the entire plot. In the same way, anyone who spends time with my wife or kids recognizes that tradition is big, very big, in this family, and the quickest way to get a rise out of any of them is to disparage something traditional, like, say, a Christmas tree.

Having been raised in a family where family birthday parties, Easter egg hunts, and long discussions about what to put into Christmas stockings didn't really play much of a part, I have been engaged in an ongoing training session for the last 27 years, ever since I married my wife. As children were added to the family, she brought them into the fold with the tradition element, so that now she has four stalward advocates to back her up on crucial issues, like, say, Christmas trees.

The first couple years of marriage, before kids (and before money, incidentally, as we were the proverbially poor college students), there was no Christmas tree, a fact that is trotted out now and again to the composite horror and loudly outspoken outrage of the children.

"Don't worry, Mom," I have overheard assorted progeny reassuring my wife. "When we're all grown up, we'll make sure that you still get a Christmas tree," as if the woman were not perfectly capable of finding a tree on the lot of some retail store, stuffing it into the Honda Civic, and driving it home -- something she did yesterday, by the way. It is still in the car, acting as an air freshener far more powerful than any cardboard cutout that hangs from the mirror, awaiting my saw and trimming abilities.

Although I don't admit this too loudly or too often, after 27 years I have been brought to see that there is indeed something about this focus on tradition, and while I am still not to the point of agonizing over what to put in the Christmas stockings, I very much enjoy decorating the Christmas tree. Thanks to the local dollar store, we have a large stock of tradtional Christmas music (interestingly, as much as my daughters argue with me about the importance of tradition, they are definitely Scrooges about Christmas carols, and would prefer Motley Crue over Bing Crosby); the goats provide milk for hot cocoa (which must, according to all four children, be garnished with a candy cane); and every year we add more lights to the ever growing grapevine outside, which acts as a year-round Christmas night light to evening visitors.

We'll be at it tonight, especially as the car won't be able to handle smelling any fresher than it presently does.

Original oil painting by Steve Henderson of Steve Henderson Fine Art

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