My Alone Time with the Tree

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chair-0155:00 a.m.

It’s just me and the tree.  The house is quiet.  Nobody else loves the morning as I do, since my father’s gone.  There’s snow on the ground and sleet has turned the trees outside to fairyland, ice palaces crisscrossing my front yard, transforming the winter-blue light into a magical dreamscape.

I throw a log on the fire and warm my hands that have carried the wood in from the porch.  The fragrance of the coffee pot tumbles memories out of their store house in my heart.

CeeCeeAnd then I sit with all of it.  Loving the tree and the quiet and the time to just be, not do.  It isn’t just a tree I see in the firelight and the pale blue dawn.  It’s my life and the lives of all I’ve ever loved.  Every ornament a memory.  Child hands tangling the tinsel onto the lowest branches, kindergarten ornaments made with ineptly brilliant baby hands.  A cockeyed potholder.  Round John Virgin.  A ceramic blob that was meant to be a goat at the manger.  Ice skates black and white to commemorate the skating ponds of my childhood, holding Papa’s hand to ease the wobbles on the ice, a metaphor for so many other wobbles in life made easier by his steady strength.  Tiny porcelain tea cups for every cup of solace in a lifetime.  Santa’s elf in the Rudolph movie who wanted to be a dentist.  The golden bows made from ribbon bought more than 40 years ago, while I was pregnant with my  daughter, now many years gone.  DakotaSmallRibbon-hung  cookie cutters from the year we had no money for ornaments.  Hand-knit mittens and tiny sweaters.  A reindeer made from popsicle sticks.  A tree so laden you can barely see the pine needles beneath.  The angels emptied heaven bright to dizen that wee tree, it said in some half-remembered childhood poem, till all outshine with holy light for little Christ to see.

A lifetime perched in perishable branches.  Just as we all are.

Memories tumbling, tumbling ass over teakettle, as the Irish say.  Time captured in a Christmas tree.  Time capsule.  Tree of life.  Each new  year a branch.  christmas-028Each new loss a step closer to eternity.  Each new birth sure proof that God thinks the world should go on.

The teacup in my hand smells of warmth and cinnamon.  The tree smells of history as much as pine. The logs in the hearth are ablaze with  the inevitable, unstoppable, unsettling, unmistakable, unfathomable passage of time.

It’s 5:00 am…and by the grace of a Christmas Tree’s magic, I’m alone with everyone I’ve ever loved.


© Cathy Cash Spellman/The Wild Harp & Co. Inc 2013


Posted on January 4th 2013 in Family, Life

8 Responses to “My Alone Time with the Tree”

  1. Melissa Says:

    Forgive many typos, this is typed on a tiny screen with tears in my eyes! Of all your many wonderful blogs, this one is…ok, words fail me.

    A moment so poignant, so beautifully expressed.


  2. Cathy Says:

    I’m touched as always by your message, Lissa. It’s really hard to let the tree go, when the time comes, isn’t it? Love, Cathy

  3. Gerry Says:

    “Round John Virgin”. I can’t stop laughing. It reminds me of so many other “misunderstandings”. One of my favorites: Louie Armstrong singing “What A Wonderful World”
    saying “and the dark sacred night” which for years I thought was “and the dogs say goodnight”. 🙂 OMG, it is a wonderful world isn’t it?

  4. Cathy Says:

    It is a wonderful world, and never more so than at Christmas. I put away all the lovely decorations today and I’d like to put them all right back up again! I love “and the dogs say goodnight”…doesn’t it make you wonder how many other misinterpretations we’ve all been party to over the years?!

  5. Maria D'Angelo Says:

    Beautiful words, perfectly captured feelings. Thank you again Cathy, I so enjoy your blogs. I also love sitting quietly with my Christmas tree thinking of Christmas pasts and loved ones gone.

    And that elf’s name is Herbie… 🙂

  6. Cathy Says:

    It’s amazing that you know the elf’s name is Herbie…I was sure nobody would know what I was talking about! Aren’t we both blessed that we have such heartfelt memories of Christmas and all its tender magic…thanks so much for understanding, Maria.

  7. Maria D'Angelo Says:

    How could anyone forget Herbie?! 🙂

  8. Cathy Says:

    You’re so right! He’s like a tiny elvin archetype for anybody who longs to be in a different job! And he’s so adorable.

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