Sunday, January 3, 2016

Eliza Warren writes

When a tree comes down
you might think about your mother.
Each little ornament,
gold and silver
no longer glowing.
Lights come away
from fragile branches whose flecks of green
you will have to vacuum later,
after it’s all ended and
time crescendos into a silence
like winter afternoons.

You might think about the past year
and other trees
and those you have shared warm nights on ships far away with--
or sisters and nieces you wish you could
every single day.

When each glass piece gets individually wrapped
you might consider briefly, the ugliness
of some places and people
in the world
right now.
You might hope for better days
and better times.

It may cross your mind that sometimes,
time passes as in a slow draining tub.
And you’ll be reminded
to buy Drain-O next time you go to a store.

When each precious ornament and all the moments attached
gets wrapped and safely placed
into a shy cardboard box
that wants nothing
of what it contains—no special preference—
you might remember
what love is like.

The sweet and bitter
or the tenderness of a touch in the morning hours
just before coffee yanks you into

real time.

You might be sad that another year has ended,
when a tree comes down
and things change.
They change.
And you might too.

"Young woman decorates the Christmas tree" -- Marcel Rieder


  1. Various ancient peoples, including the Egyptians, Israelites, and Chinese, used evergreen trees, wreaths, and garlands to symbolize eternal life. Tree worship was common among European pagans and survived their conversion to Christianity, as in the Scandinavian custom of decorating houses and barns with evergreens each new year to scare away the devil. Donar's Oak was a sacred tree in
    that grew in Gaesmere, probably in the region of Hesse, Germany: In the 8th century, St. Boniface (according to Willibard's biography)attempted "to fell a certain oak of extraordinary size... And when in the strength of his steadfast heart he had cut the lower notch, there was present a great multitude of pagans, who in their souls were earnestly cursing the enemy of their gods. But when the fore side of the tree was notched only a little, suddenly the oak's vast bulk, driven by a blast from above, crashed to the ground, shivering its crown of branches as it fell; and, as if by the gracious compensation of the Most High, it was also burst into four parts, and four trunks of huge size, equal in length, were seen, unwrought by the brethren who stood by. At this sight the pagans who before had cursed now, on the contrary, believed, and blessed the Lord, and put away their former reviling. Then moreover the most holy bishop, after taking counsel with the brethren, built from the timber of the tree wooden oratory, and dedicated it in honor of Saint Peter the apostle." Boniface then replaced it with an evergreen, pointing out that its triangular shape reminds humanity of the Trinity and how it points to heaven. Several countries staged mystery plays on 24 December, Christmas Eve, the date that commemorated Adam and Eve, the first humans; a "paradise tree" decorated with apples and wafers was used as a setting for the play. Later the tree was placed in homes, and the apples were replaced by round objects such as shiny red balls. Possibly as early as the 15th century, Danish Christians danced around these decorated trees in their homes. Martin Luther may have been the first to decorate the evergreens with lighted candles. From these various practices the Germans developed the modern custom of the "Christmas tree" (Weihnachtsbaum or Christbaum).

  2. The tradition was introduced to Canada in 1781 by Brunswick soldiers stationed in Quebec to garrison the colony against American attack. By the early 18th century, the custom had become common in the upper Rhineland but had not yet spread to rural areas. Among the Catholics of the lower Rhine, it was regarded as a Protestant custom. But after the Congress of Vienna in 1815, when Prussian officials began to spread throughout Germany, the custom gained wider acceptance and soon came to be regarded as an expression of "German" culture, especially among emigrants overseas. A decisive factor in winning general popularity was the German army's decision to place Christmas trees in its barracks and military hospitals during the Franco-Prussian War (1870-71), but only at the start of the 20th century did Christmas trees appear inside churches. Meanwhile, beginning early in the 19th century, the custom spread among the nobility as far off as Russia. In England, George III's German-born wife, Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, introduced a Christmas tree at a party she gave for children in 1800, but the practice did not spread much beyond the royal family until it was popularized by Queen Victoria after 1841. In France, the first Christmas tree was introduced in 1840 by the duchesse d'Orléans. In 1847 August Imgard, a German immigrant in Wooster, Ohio,put up a blue spruce in his house, had the local tinsmith construct a star to place at its top, and decorated it with paper ornaments and candy canes. Throughout Europe and North America, upper-class Europeans picked up the habit, and the trees trees became familiar at public entertainments, charity bazaars, and hospitals. Anti-German sentiment after World War I briefly reduced their popularity but by the mid-1920s the use of Christmas trees had spread to all classes. Generally, a Christmas tree is a decorated evergreen conifer such as spruce, pine, or fir (or an artificial tree of similar appearance). Instead of candles, strings of small electric lights are used, and other traditional ornaments include garlands, tinsel, and candy canes. An angel ("the archangel Gabriel, who announced the birth of Jesus) or a star (the Star of Bethlehem that marked his nativity) might be placed at the top of the tree. Colorfully wrapped gifts are placed beneath the tree. Traditionally, Christmas trees were not brought in and decorated until Christmas Eve (24 December) or 23 December where Christmas Eve was the central celebration, and were removed the day after Epiphany (5 January). However, many families in the U.S. now put up a Christmas tree a week prior to Thanksgiving (the fourth Thursday of November), and Christmas decorations can show up even earlier in retail stores, often the day after Halloween (31 October). Canadians may wait until after Remembrance Day (11 November), to show respect to fallen soldiers. In Italy and Latin America, the Christmas tree is put up on 8 December (celebrating the Immaculate Conception), while in Australia it is usually put up on 1 December, about 2 weeks before the school summer holidays, or in late November(after the Adelaide Christmas Pageant). German Catholics way wait until Candlemas (February 2) to take it down.

  3. Drano (or Drāno) is a drain cleaner invented in 1923 by Harry Drackett. Bristol-Myers bought the Drackett Company in 1965 and sold it to S. C. Johnson in 1992, which currently markets the original crystal form as Drano Kitchen Crystals Clog Remover. It is composed of sodium hydroxide (lye), sodium nitrate, sodium chloride (salt), and aluminum. Lye decomposes most organic matter and is particularly effective on the fat, grease, and hair which often clog drains. Lye reacting with aluminum causes heat, which speeds decomposition. When Drano is added to water, the active ingredients heat to their boiling point, liberating hydrogen gas, which churns the mixture and improves the interaction between the lye and the clogging materials. The sodium nitrate absorbs the hydrogen, reducing the possible fire and explosion hazard, and the hydrogen combines with the nitrate ion to produce ammonia, which also decomposes organic material to some extent.

  4. So many tender moments in these lines, moments I have felt myself and were returned to as I read these lines


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