Dance of The Christmas Tree

On Thursday evening I purchased a tree from the Wisconsin Christmas tree man. It had been a long day, beginning with hosting a birthday breakfast for my sister and ending with picking up Music and Star from doggie camp. They had been there a week, and we were all looking forward to getting home. (For different reasons: they were not at all tired.) But earlier in the day my daughter had reminded me of the lovely rosey-cheeked man and the trees he’d been bringing to Ocean Springs for at least twenty years. For me, he has come to epitomize the Christmas spirit – that is, the restoring of the Christmas spirit in one who is once more facing the hullabaloo with dread.

Thursday evening was very cold. It helps if it’s cold. I suppose it helps if your car is loaded with excited children. So I psyched up the pups, reminding Star of the wonderful man who wanted to take her home with him ten years before, telling Music of the glorious smells that linger on trees that have traveled all the way from Wisconsin. I guess my voice must have carried enough enthusiasm; they were on their feet sniffing the air and peering in all directions. They do the same thing if I call their attention to a fox or racoon crossing the road, so I think the inflection in one’s voice is the trigger. No matter; we were all excited as I pulled up in the large lot full of cone-shaped trees and mysterious figures milling around. It was dark enough that lights had been lit. The whole area sparkled and glimmered as though stars had dropped low to assist this good man. The ambiance was just right for viewing his trees.

I stepped from the car and hugged myself against the chill, while scanning the figures for the one I sought. Perhaps I hugged myself in part because of my childish eagerness to see him again. I felt suddenly nervous: what if he wasn’t there? Then I saw the familiar bulky shoulders, the head with its warm, billed cap. He was with a customer, but he turned and the mythic proportions I had projected upon him were vanquished by the the most human of hugs. It is true that he had alot to wrap around me; I felt myself nearly lifted off the ground. As the customer moved away with one of the helpers, we did some catching up. He asked about Star, and I pointed to the car where two long-eared doggies hung their heads out the windows. They were watching our every move – ready for their share of the fun.

Soon a fragrant white pine was being strapped to the top of my Prius while the dogs bounced happily from front to back seat and in between. Generous rubs from a large friendly hand brought shivers of pleasure. I was shivering, too, as another hug was bestowed upon me. Pleasure was present as I said farewell, but I drove home aware of a bone-deep chill that would later turn into a cold.

Some colds arrive with moderate enough symptoms that they can be dubbed friendly colds. This one is like that. Still, no one wants the germs but me. The dear little creatures assure me of a solitude that needn’t be fought for, and free of the usual distractions, I have found time to raise the Christmas tree. I have draped it with lights and sat quietly in its glow. I have contemplated its negative spaces and imagined paper cutouts of dancers turning them positive. Lastly, I have taken scissors to paper and watched as a dancer found form. Now I see this first dancer ascend as though following a path of light, and I find myself glad for the path I was following thursday night. I can still feel the hug.

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