o christmas tree


I still have my Christmas tree up.  Not laziness on my part...all my other decorations are put away for another year.  But this year's Christmas tree, still green and holding its needles, is one I've become very attached to.  It's the kind I remember from my childhood, a single balsam.  This spindly variety has nearly disappeared from the lots nowadays, in favor of the uniformly shaped double balsam and the "more is better" theory.
    When I was a child, on the day before Christmas Eve my father would find the bargain tree, the one picked over, the sorriest tree on the lot. Then full of Christmas spirits, he'd haul the balding, misshapen evergreen on to a Chicago city bus where it invariably became a group effort to get him and the tree on and off the bus.  Transformed in ornaments and tinsel finery, we'd pay homage to Christmas with my brothers and sisters singing "Dzisiaj w Betlejem,"  hands folded in reverence.

With my own family, we shop for the tree on my son's birthday, have candy cane silk chocolate pie at Bakers Square, then head back home to sing "o christmas tree" to the tree. Not quite an instant replay of my youth, it is our tradition...part old, part new.

The tree and me, we have an unspoken bargain.  I'll keep feeding it,  and it'll shine its best for me...even long after it's gone.

currently working  on: illustrating 2 picture books. 
One for Hooked on Phonics, and
“Dance Y’all, Dance” Bright Sky Press, Fall 2009