Thursday, December 22, 2016

A Christmas Tree with Stories to Tell

Christmas Trees
by Robert Frost

The city had withdrawn into itself
And left at last the country to the country;
When between whirls of snow not come to lie
And whirls of foliage not yet laid, there drove
A stranger to our yard, who looked the city,
Yet did in country fashion in that there
He sat and waited till he drew us out
A-buttoning coats to ask him who he was.
He proved to be the city come again
To look for something it had left behind
And could not do without and keep its Christmas.
He asked if I would sell my Christmas trees;
My woods—the young fir balsams like a place
Where houses all are churches and have spires.
I hadn’t thought of them as Christmas Trees.
I doubt if I was tempted for a moment
To sell them off their feet to go in cars
And leave the slope behind the house all bare,
Where the sun shines now no warmer than the moon.
I’d hate to have them know it if I was.
Yet more I’d hate to hold my trees except
As others hold theirs or refuse for them,
Beyond the time of profitable growth,
The trial by market everything must come to.
I dallied so much with the thought of selling.
Then whether from mistaken courtesy
And fear of seeming short of speech, or whether
From hope of hearing good of what was mine,
I said, “There aren’t enough to be worth while.”
“I could soon tell how many they would cut,
You let me look them over.”

“You could look.
But don’t expect I’m going to let you have them.”
Pasture they spring in, some in clumps too close
That lop each other of boughs, but not a few
Quite solitary and having equal boughs
All round and round. The latter he nodded “Yes” to,
Or paused to say beneath some lovelier one,
With a buyer’s moderation, “That would do.”
I thought so too, but wasn’t there to say so.
We climbed the pasture on the south, crossed over,
And came down on the north.
He said, “A thousand.”

“A thousand Christmas trees! —at what apiece? ”

He felt some need of softening that to me:
“A thousand trees would come to thirty dollars.”

Then I was certain I had never meant
To let him have them. Never show surprise!
But thirty dollars seemed so small beside
The extent of pasture I should strip, three cents
(For that was all they figured out apiece) ,
Three cents so small beside the dollar friends
I should be writing to within the hour
Would pay in cities for good trees like those,
Regular vestry-trees whole Sunday Schools
Could hang enough on to pick off enough.
A thousand Christmas trees I didn’t know I had!
Worth three cents more to give away than sell,
As may be shown by a simple calculation.
Too bad I couldn’t lay one in a letter.
I can’t help wishing I could send you one,
In wishing you herewith a Merry Christmas
I paid very close attention to these words and put the word sparkle into my tree decorating this year . The more glitz and lights the better by my standards. Some family members even suggested it was overkill. The flashy sparkling lights capped by circular glowing tree topper gives the tree a very festive appearance. 
Have you ever thought about how each ornament  hanging on your tree has a story to tell? Some stories that might be told would answer these questions; Where did this ornament come from? Was it a gift or a purchase? How long has your family had the ornament? Was it made especially for you? 
Some of these questions bring me  to these two ornaments.
The Mary and Baby Jesus toothpick stable ornament was made by my son in grade 4  and the play dough ornament (initials JR) was made by daughter in preschool. These are treasured ornaments with stories of their own how they ended up hanging on the tree.  
So perhaps as you decorate your own tree you might recall and reflect on a few stories of your own.   

According to the historical records the custom of decorating Christmas trees emerged in the early 16th century in Germany. Martin Luther decorated the first Christmas tree with candles to entertain the children. During this time Christmas trees were embellished with wafers, candies, fruits, paper flowers, hard cookies baked in various shapes and tinsels made from tin and silver.

Christmas tree ornaments reached America around 1880. F.W Woolworth, an American retailer first sold imported glass ornaments in his shop. Decorations also included cut outs from old magazines and tinsel. The first American-made glass ornaments were created by William DeMuth in New York in 1870.

By the 20th century, Woolworth's had imported 200,000 ornaments and topped $25 million in sales from Christmas decorations alone.The First World War disrupted natural commerce and necessitated the production of cheaper ornaments with new technologies.

Legend plays an important role in the history of Christmas ornaments. The popular pickle ornament is a German tradition that carries with it a wonderful tale. Pickle ornaments are glass ornaments formed in the shape of a pickle. There are many popular legends or myths.   
The Legend of the Pickle-
The Christmas pickle is not really a pickle at all, it is a pickle-shaped ornament. A very old Christmas Eve tradition in Germany was to hide a pickle ( ornament ) deep in the branches of the family Christmas Tree. The parents hung the pickle last after all the other ornaments were in place. In the morning they knew the first child to find the pickle on Christmas day would receive an extra gift from St Nicholas. The first adult who finds the pickle traditionally gets good luck for the whole year.

Perhaps the essence behind this family tradition is to take time to savor the moment with family and friends and while searching for the pickle enjoy the beauty of the tree and it's ornaments - teaching children to stop and enjoy the beauty of the season and not focus on the gifts under the tree.

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