'O Christmas Tree' - by Lee Wilkinson

There is an animation called ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’ based on the comic strip Peanuts, by Charles M. Schulz and it’s underscored by piano music composed by Vince Guaraldi. It features a jazz version of ‘O Christmas Tree’ (the actual title of the piece is, ‘O Tannenbaum’). I first came across the film when I moved to America in 1980 and it has stuck with me ever since it’s become part of what Christmas means to me.

I know that the holidays can mean different things to all of us ranging from the holiest of time to some and a complete none event to others. It is a time of family and friends and it’s also a time of loneliness and anxiety. Like many of my generation, I grew up in a time of austerity and poverty and I said when I grew up and became a parent, I would celebrate Christmas in a more traditional way with family and friends. Some years we have had so many presents that you could barely get in the room and other years it has been more modest, but through it all, we have always had the constant of family and friends. Over the last few years, it has become more important to me to keep those traditions close to my heart. Our children are growing up fast and will quite possibly have children of their own one day and I will have to share that time with extended family.

Last night, my daughter and her fiancé came over to decorate the tree as we have done for thirty-two years, Chris and I have been married for thirty years. We ate dinner as a family, Chris and I, Erin and Jordan and Paige, our youngest daughter, and in that moment life was perfect. It’s always been pretty good but it was perfect that day. Our family tree is the story of our life starting with our fist decoration dated 1987. It tells how our life has unfolded over the years and the memories are treasures to behold. It reflects a life in Theatre with gifts from cast members, several years when Chris worked on Capitol Hill in Washington DC. Births of children, years of marriage and places, places where we have lived, both here and in America, and the friends and family who we left behind and gained, our life becoming all the richer for the experience. Every year, our tree gets bigger than the previous in order to hold all of the memories and every year, I am more grateful than the previous year for the joy those memories bring to our growing family.

However you choose to spend the holidays however you like, I hope they bring as much joy to you as they do to us.

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