by judy cassidy
For thirty years, this exotic immigrant from the tropics has been part of our family. She’s irresistibly sexy, sassy, her feathered, outstretched arms poised in dance. Her head gracefully tilts to accommodate her regal eight-foot height to an intrusive ceiling. She coos evergreen to her tree children, who gather close to her spindly trunk, growing under her protective canopy.
We attend her. In warmer seasons we move her to the deck where she sunbathes and is replenished by storms and gentle rains. We bring her inside in frosty weather.
Our children have known only She for holy days. As the winter solstice nears, when all else is dark and barren, she announces the coming year in splendid regalia, festooned in a holiday robe generations in the making. Her lighted undergarments gleam red, yellow, green, and blue. Following tradition, ornaments adorn her: framed photos of the young ones, sparkling pipe cleaner dream catchers and spirals from the granddaughters, sprightly Santas of red pipe cleaner Grandma Mommie Lemm conceived during the Depression; yarn and popsicle stick weavings by one of our boys, a bell ringer by the other; our daughter’s fluffy cotton snowman. Friends contributed crocheted Morton House wreathes and snowflakes, a British gentleman with a light bulb head and proper collar; a simple star of dry reeds.
Too heavy for her delicate limbs, some ripened fruits settle easily around the goddess, surrounding her on the coffee table, windowsills, banister, lamps, rims of hanging pots: Mom’s home-made golden globe studded with sparkling beads and sequins, Bruce and Maggie’s Mexican nativity; Aunt Francis’s music box topped with a choir of cherubs; fragrant candles with gaily flickering flames.
Wind chimes carol outside the east window. Cedars scent the path. Blue spruce, now sixty feet tall, stretch skyward, were once lugged into the house for the winter solstice in pots bigger than they were. Now they wear cranberry and popcorn garlands for the birds.
We are replenished by what we offer.