Thursday, December 2, 2010

OH Christmas Tree!

Yesterday, December 1st, I helped Susan and Bruce put up a Christmas Tree in the living room. 

It was much fun and it got me thinking of something Bruce wrote a few years ago. As best as I can remember, it went:

"I am driving behind a truck of Christmas trees. I can count one hundred tree trunks, but it is a long truck, so I guess there are approximately 300 Christmas trees from near and distant woods and forest, loaded and strapped down for their trip south; soon to find themselves on display in 300 homes. "Take Me. Take Me," says one tree. "Oh, No. Please take Me," says another. And a little boy and girl exclaim, "This one. This one is magnificent."

"And so I follow the truck full of trees for ten or fifteen miles thinking of the upcoming holiday; thinking about the courage we believe Christ showed; thinking about the concept of me as a spiritual being having a human experience as opposed to a human being having a spiritual experience; thinking about the power of love, harmony, and service — putting my energies toward what I am for instead of what I am against.

"So I continue to follow the truck of trees and later, at night, I research some history of evergreens and find:
"The Egyptians were part of a long line of cultures that treasured and worshiped evergreens. When the winter solstice arrived, they brought green date palm leaves into their homes to symbolize life's triumph over death. The Romans celebrated the winter solstice with a feast called Saturnalia in honor of Saturnus, the god of agriculture. They decorated their houses with greens and lights and exchanged gifts. They gave coins for prosperity, pastries for happiness, and lamps to light one's journey through life. Centuries ago in Great Britain, woods priests called Druids used evergreens during mysterious winter solstice rituals. The Druids used holly and mistletoe as symbols of eternal life, and placed evergreen branches over doors to keep away evil spirits.

"Late in the Middle Ages, Germans and Scandinavians placed evergreen trees inside their homes or just outside their doors to show their hope in the forthcoming spring. Our modern Christmas tree evolved from these early traditions. The fir tree has a long association with Christianity, it began in Germany almost a 1000 years ago when St Boniface, who converted the German people to Christianity, was said to have come across a group of pagans worshiping an oak tree. In anger, St Boniface is said to have cut down the oak tree and to his amazement a young fir tree sprung up from the roots of the oak tree. St Boniface took this as a sign of the Christian faith. But it was not until the 16th century that fir trees were brought indoors at Christmas time.

"Legend has it that Martin Luther began the tradition of decorating trees to celebrate Christmas. One crisp Christmas Eve, about the year 1500, he was walking through snow-covered woods and was struck by the beauty of a group of small evergreens. Their branches, dusted with snow, shimmered in the moonlight. After his banishment from the Catholic church he spent a great deal of time walking through the  forests of evergreen conifers thinking through his beliefs. The candles are said to have represented the stars which were seen by him through the trees. When he got home, he set up a little fir tree indoors so he could share this story with his children. He decorated it with candles, which he lighted in honor of Christ's birth.

"The first appearance of a Tannenbaum was recorded in Germany many years after Luther's death. It was in 1605 in Strasbourg in Alsace, then in Germany, that a chronicler wrote (in old German): "Auff Weihenachten richtett man Dahnnenbäum zu Strasburg in den Stuben auff..." ("At Christmas they set up Christmas trees in their rooms...")

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree,
Your branches green delight us.
They're green when summer days are bright:
They're green when winter snow is white.
O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree,
Your branches green delight us.
O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree,
You give us so much pleasure!
How oft at Christmas tide the sight,
O green fir tree, gives us delight!
O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree,
You give us so much pleasure!

Bruce continues, "I am driving behind a truck full of Christmas trees. I am thinking of courage and desire. I am thinking about the difference between courage and desire. And I am reminded of the Cranberries song, Yeat's Grave:

Had they but courage
Equal to desire 

Do you have courage equal to desire? I would love to hear from you!

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