In our small apartment in New York there was very little room for extraneous things like Christmas trees – but somehow we managed to have one every year. It was certainly nothing like the mammoth that appeared in Rockefeller Center, but it was fresh and new and smelled piney.
Mom had embroidered a beautiful tree skirt replete with cherubs and Wise Men and candles and there were several boxes which I presumed contained the gifts that the Magi had brought to the baby Jesus. In addition to being decorative it was very functional. It collected the pine needles which began dropping from the tree due to the low humidity in the apartment.
Of course, one of the great traditions was trimming the tree. We had a small supply of ornaments which had been used for years. And then there were some wonderful lights. My favorite were the ones that contained oil and which bubbled when the contents had been heated by the electric current. They were probably dangerous and have no doubt been outlawed by some government agency in the interest of the public good.
The best part of our tree’s decorations were the Christmas cards which were strung with red or green yarn and placed strategically to fill in the gaps where there were no ornaments or lights. There were a lot of cards as people seemed to enjoy sending them just as much as we enjoyed receiving them. And the cards were beautiful and mostly religious in their theme.
Over the years I’ve noticed that the number of cards I have received has declined substantially. I don’t think that this is attributable either to the demise of some of those who included me on their Christmas card list or that I’ve managed to irritate a lot of people. No, I still get a lot of cards – but most of them are sent electronically and reside on my computer. Most of these contain the ever so banal wish, “Season’s Greetings,” and a number are animated. One person whose mental health I have questioned sent one last year that included fornicating reindeer. Well, I guess it’s the thought that counts.
So as I looked at my tree, I couldn’t help feel that it was a little bit bare – devoid of the usual Christmas cards that I had enjoyed in years past. And I tried to find a way to correct this deficiency. Then it occurred to me. Since I had a lot of electronic cards on my hard drive, all I needed to do was pull the laptop from my office and put it on my tree. So I removed the star from the top of the tree and attempted to replace it with the computer. This created a few problems.
Even a small laptop is weighty and was more than the top branches could support, so I tried to prop it up by supporting it with several brooms. While this worked, it didn’t have quite the aesthetic look I was trying to achieve. Furthermore, I found that even with this makeshift solution it was very difficult for me to do any work on the laptop while standing on a stool. The pressure of my fingers typing tended to cause the laptop to shift and I was concerned that the laptop and perhaps the tree itself might topple over. So I came up with a solution to this conundrum.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York has wonderful Christmas cards. They always put together a collection of various images from years past and box them for sale. And as it is close to the end of the season for Christmas cards, I was able to order four boxes of wonderful religious cards at a discount which I should be receiving next week.
What I intend to do is send myself one from each of the people who sent me an electronic card and write a wonderful and warm Christmas greeting from each of them. When they’re delivered, I’ll pull out the needle and the yarn and place them on the tree, just as my family did when I was a child.
And now that I’ve resolved this challenge to the outward displays of Christmas, I can turn my attention back to its essence. That there was a child born who changed the world and who gave us a message which each of us is expected to observe. That we are to conduct our lives in Peace and with Love for our fellow men and women.