Thursday, December 22, 2005

in the matter of the tree, part 2

I wake up knowing that the day is now longer. We are moving toward summer.

And still the tree remains untrimmed.

[One year, I imagine that we will wake up on December 25th and decide that there just wasn’t the time or the will to trim the tree (even though tree decorating remains at the top of our list of pleasurable holiday rituals). And the tree will remain there, in its beautiful, pristine splendor, naked, without ornamentation that one year. There’s beauty in that as well.]

We intended to go through our splendid evening of tree trimming last night. But the day took another direction.

Suddenly, as everyone rushes to get things done, my pace has slackened. I have my daughter here, at my side and the movement through a day becomes very different. More protracted, leisurely. We have things to do, tasks, chores, all of it and yet our inclination is to linger. For no reason, we detour to look at antiques and embroidered pillows, we sip lattes at length and watch calm moms handle toddlers’ spills of frothy milk. Outside on Monroe Street, we pause just to look at how stunning a stream of cars can be against a receding winter sun, framed by the bare branches of Madison’s numerous trees.

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At home, I want to bake something. One does not come back from ten days of pastry-gawking in France without wanting to do at least the simplest pastry (an eclair) right here, filled with the familiar rich crème patisserie (chocolate this time).

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And as we drive to the airport late in the day to pick up daughter number two, it becomes clear that tree trimming will not take place on this solstice night. It cannot be rushed. These hours have to be taken as they present themselves. And they are presenting themselves very slowly, deliciously. Dare I say it? Christmas may just have to wait.

Or not. A new plan is hatched: tonight. The tree gets dressed tonight. I think.

to be continued