Monday, November 26, 2007

Mmmm...take a deep breath~~

We have a Standing Order with my former employer. Every year for the past -- oh 12 or 14 years, we have gotten our Christmas tree from him; his family has a wonderful tree farm up by Antigo, Wisconsin where the fresh air grows truly beautiful trees.On the weekend after Thanksgiving, they bring over a tree, either setting it safely inside the garage (if we're out) or knocking on the door (if we're not). They know our house, they know our taste - and nothing will convince me other than that they measure, examine, peruse, interview and admire every single one of their many trees and select the exactly right one for us.

As you can see, it fits the window end of the living room perfectly, and it's exactly the right height. If you put your nose right up to the monitor and take a deep breath, you will smell that rich fragrance unique to firs raised in clear fresh air. The house, so recently fragrant with the smell of roasting fowl, is now absolutely redolent with the crisp freshness of the northern forests. As it warms, the branches will relax a bit, but the scent (every year) lingers deliciously until after the first of the New Year.

But Dale-Harriet! you may ask. I thought you were Jewish! OK - to forestall future confusion, let me put it this way: I believe. I've always celebrated at least the major Jewish holidays (Chanukah, Passover, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur), but I tend to not discount the Norse Gods, the Greek gods, the Spirit which imbues all, as the Native Americans believed.

When Lovely Daughter and Sons #1 and #2 were children, we only celebrated Chanukah this time of year. We lighted our menorah (I still do) and had latkes and played dreidl (still do). In those days, the children took their little menorah to school and explained their festival to their classmates, and enjoyed singing Christmas songs, coloring little pictures &c. They gave them to friends, proudly. As adults, their belief systems are their own. But they come over during Chanukah.

When Mr Dearling joined the family, he commented that he'd enjoy having a Christmas tree. I had never had one, so I polled the children. Think about this for a moment: ask a child if he'd like a beautiful, fragrant tree bedecked with sparkling lights and shimmering ornaments in the living room. OF COURSE! So we had our first. I have no conflict with that - after all, the evergreen is a shining example of life thriving in the winter &c &c.

That having been decided, however, we discussed the fact that Christmas is a religious holiday, the celebration of the birth of Jesus (who was, after all, a nice Jewish boy). So we bought a lovely Fontanini nativity set for Mr Dearling: the figures of Mary, Joseph, the Babe in the manger, two angels and three kings. Since that year, Lovely Daughter and I have added a figure every year, and now he has quite the colorful crowd! (The truth? I love setting out the figures and arranging them on the card table and moving them around, and Lovely Daughter and I go out and spend time selecting the new figure, which Mr Dearling then has to identify. Whose are they really? Maybe mine. He likes them well enough, though. Nevermind.)

However, all this excitement has been punctuated throughout by knitting!

On Saturday I collected my dear friend Ginny and we actually found went to join some of our fellow local knitters at a Victor Allen's Coffee Shop. NOTE: I had to ask three times exactly where it was because I'm geographically-challenged I couldn't remember which shop it was, so it was a victory for me to get there!

It was a lovely time! See here displayed, the six squares I finished for Kay of Mason-Dixon; they're 4" squares in Reggia sock yarn. Also see two toques, a red one for a voyageur and a blue one for my friend in Colorado; a scarf I've begun with Paton SWS because I love both the yarn and the pattern so much. (It's the Yarn Harlot's "one-row" pattern.) On the left there you can see another toque on its circular needle - I need to really crank on that one so it can go to the fellow in time to serve as a Christmas present (!)

Incidentally, our tree will remain as it is, unadorned, for some time until we can arrange to have assistance from grandchildren; there's no rush, it's a month until Christmas. Also - our first Chanukah candle will be lighted on Tuesday, December 4th, at sundown. Watch this space - I'll take pictures!

PS SO FAR, the kitties have been *interested* in the tree but no more. I expect no less from Evangeline, but the spritz bottle is at hand in case Lilliane forgets herself. Just in case.


Alyson said...

Oh how I love that smell. We're not doing the whole tree thing this year, since we'll be gone for the week of Christmas (and Travis goes through somewhat manic fire-hazard phases, surprising considering how often we discuss removing items of value and burning the stupid house down to its stupid deteriorating foundation.) I need to get at least some pine tree candles or something. :-)

My dad, who spent a few years working in Israel, always calls our tree the Chanukah bush, even though we're not Jewish ;-) And that's what I always say - no matter what you believe about Jesus, he was bound to at the very least be a pretty nice guy. These days, I think that alone is worth celebrating! (Which we do by fighting to the death over the last Elmo doll. Makes perfect sense, eh?)

kmkat said...

I love your Chanuchristkahmas conglomeration holiday traditions. Truly, what person of northern European heritage could pass up the opportunity to scent up the house with balsam?

Kathy in KS said...

You know, I have one of those Yankee Candle candle of the "Sparkling Pine" lit up mostly from October on. I LOVE LOVE LOVE pine-y balsalm-y smells. That candle is the closest I've found. And that yarn for that scarf is delicious. I've wanted to try that yarn, but I never seem to catch it on sale, and if I remember, it's a little much for my "cheapest person in the world" wallet. I didn't realize that it's self-striping. Very cool. I have to go light my candle now. I'm on the second one of the season. PS. The buttercream is pretty good too, but it makes me want to go get a spoon and try to eat it.

Beth in WI said...

Cats and Christmas trees? Yuck, mine always tried to eat the silver garland. Ya know, the horrible strands of Mylar of what-have-you? So the weekend after tree decoration was always punctuated with the cat, gagging in some corner of the living room.

MollyBeees said...

Beautiful tree! We aren't having one this year because we are going home to Maine for Christmas, but my Mum will. I can't wait to smell that fresh Maine tree!

Yarnhog said...

Your house sounds a bit like mine at the holidays. My mom was raised Catholic (although her father was Protestant). My father was raised Muslim (but went to a rabbinical school in Jerusalem). My husband is Jewish. One day a couple of years ago, we went to a party for a cousin who had returned from the Haj, then to a neighbor's Christmas party, and then returned home to light the Hannukah candles. My children may be confused, but they are tolerant.