Saturday, 26 January 2013

An out-of-step tradition

Here's a confession: we still have our Christmas tree up.  (I know it's a little late for a Christmas post, bear with me...). This is not a situation born of laziness or apathy; rather, it's become something of a family tradition, this happily being out of step with the ceaseless demands of a forward moving calendar.

It started in our first real Christmas together as a couple. (In the previous year, our relationship was only a few months old, and we hadn't ventured forth into the ultimate and life altering realization that we would become, totally, each other's family; and so we spent our respective holidays with our respective families of origin, in different countries and with one huge phone bill at the end). That second year, I had a guest position teaching in the US, and a perk of that role was accommodation in a beautiful - and huge - Arts and Crafts style home in a rather more wealthy suburb of the city than anything my upbringing had ever exposed me to. Despite all the luxuries integral to the building, such as a custom-made little bar and buffet area adjacent to the dining room and open brick fireplace, the university had furnished the house for the barest of our needs, and thus the place had a vacant, slightly forlorn, weirdly grandiose elegance about it. We moved in, newly man and wife, at the end of November, and thus Christmas decorating was a means for us not only to celebrate that first season together, but to fill some of that echoing vastness. In that house, the tree stayed up until sometime in February. And somehow, we just continued from there...

It also has something to do, I suppose, with the fact that we observe the tradition typical in Austria, which is to erect and decorate the tree on Christmas eve. I'm a big fan of the holiday season in all its kitschyness, baking of garish desserts, playing of music that would never get a passing glance on our otherwise more fashionable playlist, and generally decking halls to the hilt. So the wait 'til the 24th, when all around us trees are going up from late November onwards, is a test of my patience. I like to get the maximum of enjoyment from our tree for as long as possible after that.

S has had a strong connection to, and presence on our tree almost from the beginning. My mom has established a tradition, in the last two holidays, of gifting us a special ornament for him, and these always take pride of place.This year's ornament is a sweet little giraffe that we all three picked out together; we all felt sure it would be the sort of thing S, with his chubby two year old's hands, would have loved. It was purchased at St Paul's Cathedral, where my mother joined us for a particularly poignant service to remember lost babies, organised by this wonderful organisation. It was a very special afternoon for us. Here's a look at the ornament gracing the tree.

A special memory
The tree will, finally, have to come down this weekend. It's got a sort of sad, Charlie Brown look to it now, having lost a good portion of its needles. And besides, the string of cheapy lights that we bought from the pound shop (because we're never sure if we'll be in the same country, with the same voltage and power outlets from one year to the next, and it's not worth it to buy 'good' ones), gave out yesterday, so the tree's twinkliness is also diminished. Thus, as much pleasure as it brings us, he'll have to go. And forward we move. The giraffe may stay out of the boxes to be packed away though. He's just too cute. 


  1. I don't blame you for wanting to keep the tree up! We are usually out of town for Christmas and keep our up until MLK to enjoy! I love ornament traditions. In our family my grandma buys us an ornament every single year. It is something that we really look forward to and treasure!

  2. I'm so glad you've started this blog! It's taken me a little while to catch up.

    That ornament is so cute! Definitely keep it out where you can see it all year long.

    1. Thank you so much for stopping by! You and a few other bloggers I've been following for a while now have been a huge encouragement. I must say, I didn't anticipate this level of support so early on (esp as I don't really know what I'm doing, and tend to ramble), but it fills me with warm fuzzies :)

      And yeah, the tree is now gone, but the giraffe stays.


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