“…simple…elegant…splendid…” she wrote about the branch from the big old tree in our front yard, the branch we wrapped in lights and on which we hung a tin star. last year’s christmas tree. sometime after the holiday, we changed the tin star to a tin heart and kept it in the living room, in front of the big window.
i suppose it goes without saying – for anyone who knows us – that each of our christmas trees has a story. well, not just a story, but a full-fledged novel full of threads that wrap around them like $2.99 twinkly lights fresh out of the box. we’ve given meaning to the tiniest pine tree from the side of a trail, to the carcass of a tree behind our garage, to the branch that fell into our back yard, to a straight trunk-of-a-tree we lugged out of the woods, to a christmas-tree-on-a-stick.
this year, we were going to get a permit and go to a state forest to cut one down. only we didn’t.
20 was exasperated with the tree he had gotten his momma. the lights were all knotted – a titanic tangle – and the tree was disheveled. he put it in the box and bought her a new one, planning to toss the old one. we wanted a tree out back and figured we could make this messy tree into something worthy of the deck, so he brought it to us.
david spent time – lots of it – patiently untangling and cutting off the attached multi-colored light strands. then he attached the three pieces of tree, stacking them to see how it looked.
the tree – 6′ – stood limply, likely gasping from the trauma.
we decided to let it get some air and put it in the framed doorway between the living room and the dining room, where it could have a little space while we fluffed it a bit and decided about putting it on the deck.
only, it started growing on us, this sweet little tree – just trying to be a loved-christmas-tree – stood there, quietly watching us and waiting for our decision.
we whispered to each other – about her – on the couch, so as not to offend the little tree. and time to time, we’d take turns stepping into the living room to gaze at it. to ponder.
and then he took four hundred lights and gently wrapped them around the little tree.
we stood back and knew.
i said, “let’s call it e.e.” not for ee cummings, though he would definitely get it – all our christmas trees through these years. but the little tree knows – inside, in its heart of hearts – his poem “little tree” word for word. e.e.
but the e.e. is for 20’s momma, her first and middle name initials. as she – at 99 – struggles a bit with her health these very days, we will honor her, hold space for her, with e.e.
the silver ornaments shine on e.e.’s branches. e.e. holds out her arms graciously. and those lights. and we are entranced.
little silent Christmas tree…
look the spangles
that sleep all the year in a dark box
dreaming of being taken out and allowed to shine,
the balls the chains red and gold the fluffy threads,
put up your little arms
and i’ll give them all to you to hold
every finger shall have its ring
and there won’t be a single place dark or unhappy
then when you’re quite dressed
you’ll stand in the window for everyone to see
and how they’ll stare!
oh but you’ll be very proud
(excerpts from “little tree” – ee cummings)