She’s slacking. She hasn’t got the Christmas Tree out this year. Okay, I can accept that digging through the snow to the shed might not have been on her menu…but she hasn’t even started on the festive stuff yet! If she doesn’t hurry up, it will all be over and the tree will have to come down before it has gone up!
It’s not good enough. She hummed and ha’ed about whether or not to put the tree up last year, but she finally saw sense. Just as well, really, as Santa had plans for it. She says that as I still have almost all of last year’s ‘baubles’, he is unlikely to do the same again…but you never know! And he might have other stuff planned, if he thinks I’ve been good.
Anyway, we’ve got to have a Christmas tree… it isn’t the same without one. But she says it is not about all the trimmings anyway and it is the other stuff… the real stuff that you shouldn’t put away when the holiday is over, that is more important… love… caring… kindness… Maybe there is hope for two-legses after all…
Much love, Ani xxx
The Longenecker Christmas Tree.
Well, there was none. Not one. Not ever. Despite the fact that the Christmas song, “O Tannenbaum” is of German origin, most Pennsylvania Dutch Mennonite homes of the 1950s and 60s did not light Christmas trees. Decorated trees were lumped together with other worldly pleasures like jewelry, makeup, and movies and therefore not permitted. At least the Ray Longenecker family did not have one. We were plain and I longed for some fancy.
One year I found a limb from our maple tree out front with little branches that looked as forlorn as Charlie Brown’s tree. I brought it into the living room and tried to find trinkets and a red ribbon or two for decoration.
It was a sad little tree. It looked something like this, only wedged into our living room radiator and anchored by balled-up newspaper no doubt.
Good grief! I know how Charlie Brown must have felt. But at least his had “a wooden trunk and soft green needles” with a red ball on the end of a branch instead of a timid little ribbon.
Charlie Brown’s luck seems to change when Lucy appoints him as director of the Christmas play in which Linus reads Luke 2 from scripture. After the play, the performers migrate outdoors toward Charlie’s sagging tree. Charlie Brown eventually gets his wish for a fine Christmas tree as the gang “donate” the festive string of lights from Snoopy’s doghouse to the dress up the little tree. Charity in action.
No, there was no Christmas tree in our home or in the sanctuary of my family’s home church, Bossler’s Mennonite Church. But like Linus and friends, we heard the Christmas story from Luke 2 faithfully recited and at the end of the service, we received hand-outs of navel oranges every year, the orange orbs passed hand to hand down the rows.
Nowadays in the Longenecker-Beaman home there is a happy fir tree, bedecked with ornaments from several generations. And we all rehearse the precious old story of the nativity in the Bible passage Luke 2 on Christmas morning.
A wondrous story, plain and simple, read beside a fanciful tree.
This post first appeared on http://marianbeaman.com
About the author
Marian Longenecker Beaman’s life has been characterized by re-invention: Pennsylvania Mennonite girl moves to Florida to becomes traveling artist’s wife, then English professor with credits in the Journal of the Forum on Public Policy published by Oxford University Roundtable Press. She is also a contributor to My Gutsy Story Anthology, Volume 2 published in 2014. The September 2016 issue of The Mennonite features an article entitled: Making Love Edible: Lessons from Fannie Martin Longenecker.
Along with her work as a community activist leading her neighborhood to take on Walmart expansion, she is a writer and blogger in this second phase of her career. Fitness training and Pilates classes at the gym have become a metaphor for her mind-flexing experience as a writer, mining stories from her past along with reflections on current events in her blog.
Her work in progress is a memoir set in the Lancaster County, Pennsylvania landscape of her Mennonite childhood.
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If you would like to help save Ani from a fate (she says) worse than death, send your Letters to Santa, festive memories, short stories, flash fiction or poems to the Small Dog. She will post them every day through December until Christmas.
She would especially like to hear from her four-legged or feathered friends (she has a special place very close to her heart for turkeys)… but she says that two-legs are better than none, so she will accept submissions from humans too.
To get in touch, please use the form on the contact page or you can email Ani at email@example.com