Tree Day
by Edwina Peterson Cross

The most important thing about Thanksgiving at our house is the day after and that is because it is Tree Day.

We go into the woods to cut our Christmas Tree. Since we live in Camelot (The rain may never fall upon the hillside, by 8 a.m. the morning fog has flown . . . etc.) We have snow on the mountains, but not on the valley floor. We have fairly temperate weather down here, but if you want to we get dressed for cold and drive a little, voila! you are in the snow. We go up into the snow for the Christmas tree.

Once we are off the highway, the children sit in the back of the truck and sing Christmas carols and look for good trees. We have to troop out through the snow several times before the perfect one is agreed upon then it is blessed and thanked and cut and taken home where it is set up and decorated, the Christmas music is officially turned on for the season (some people have been sneaking it before hand, but we don’t mention names) and the children are hot chocolated.

We used to have generic ornaments, but now there is only room for the ornaments that have meaning, since there are so many of them. This makes tree decorating especially wonderful. As each ornament goes up, there is a memory to go with it, “Oh here is the one we got the night we went to see CATS” or “Here’s April’s Cinderella Ornament.” “Here’s Taran’s Birth Ornament,” or “here’s Cabbage Patch Christmas!” We try to get an ornament every year that typifies what that year was most about. Most of them are not Christmasy at all. We have a laminated Beatle card from the year that the girls were deeply into Beatle mania. We have a tiny Dracula from the year that April played Mina in that play. It is a little uncanny the way the perfect ornament always shows up. The year Lezlie directed “Comedy of Errors” I found a beautiful Comedy Mask . . . just the Comedy Mask, no tragedy, I painted “1996" on it and it was THE ornament.

I have an idea that the 2003 ornament is in the package from England in the front room marked “DO NOT OPEN UNTIL TREE DAY.” Lezlie said, “I don’t mind so much missing Thanksgiving, but I can’t stand the idea of missing Tree Day.”

“We’re going out for a drink”

Once their hair hung down to their waists
In swinging twin cascades of gold and chestnut
Sister Light, Sister Dark
Dancing spirits in bright, constant, bubbling motion
Now that hair is short and chicly shaped
Their eyes are shadowed, their lips shined
Their long legs encased in leather
Those spirits move fluid now, eloquent
Cursive, cosmopolitan, smooth, sophisticated
They go out into the night
Like twin stars
Burning sculpted double patterns of light
In a black velvet sky

But, today
They have come up the mountain
To choose a Christmas tree
Eyes bare of makeup glisten in the bright cold air
Stocking caps are pulled down
Over the short tufts of their unwashed hair
The icy white wind paints their cheeks
Bright little girl pink
Smoothing out an urbane curve from eyebrows and lips,
It wipes ten years away from their faces
And they are twelve again

I watch them skip away,
arms linked Sister dark, sister light
Twined shadows dancing on the snow
The tall pines echo with their bubbling laughter
And the sun on the snow sparkles, shimmers and shines
Caught in the streaming swirl and sway
Of these strong singing spirits
That time will never
Really Still

Edwina Peterson Cross ©November 28, 2003