O Tannenbaum

O Christmas tree, o Christmas tree
Your dress wants to teach me something:
Your hope and durability
Provide comfort and strength at any time.
O Christmas tree, o Christmas tree
That’s what your dress should teach me.

Ernst Anschütz, “O Tannenbaum” (English translation)

Get a plastic tree without lights, they said. It’s the smart thing to do, they said. If you bought a tree pre-lit, you’d just wind up buying a whole new tree in a few years when the lights stop working. Way cheaper to string them on yourself every year, and replace the light strands as needed.

“They” clearly weren’t buying the cliche that “time is money”. Neither did “they” consider the three-hour drudgery that is stringing my lights the way I like them. (Spoiler: I’m a weaver.)

My daughter has long considered this rampant masochism with minimal reward. “Just wrap them around the tree,” she told me one year. “Nobody will care.”

She might as well have told me to stop using soap on the dirty dishes and just give ’em a quick rinse.

C’mon, nobody will care.

If only.

I remember one year when she decided to do the lights with me. I taught her how to start at the back of a branch, over-under her way to the front, over-under all the way back, and secure the string with a back branch — because this is the magic of the plastic trees, that each branch is bendy and can keep your lights in position. This is a key feature when you have felines in the house who are convinced the tree is being set up specifically for them to dismantle.

She gave up after about a half hour, complaining that it was “annoying” and “hard”. More grumbling about the lack of individuals in the house who would even notice if she did it the Charlie Brown Christmas way.

Of course I finished weaving the lights, on my own. I had to.

Weaving lights is up there with watching the Muppets Christmas Carol, Die Hard, and Scrooged. With putting a handful of “special” ornaments on the tree, hanging the handcrafted and quite enormous stockings that my mother made for each of the kids, and telling the household (cats included) that my office is off limits because the elves need a place to work.

It’s a moral imperative.

Even as the kids are no longer kids, the teenagers are less enthused, and the biggest of the kids is no longer living here even on holiday breaks.

Maybe all the more so, because of all that. The more things change, the more I cling to that which can stay the same.

Or maybe my daughter is right, and I’m just a masochist. Anything’s possible.

Shot on Pixel 6 Pro.

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