Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Return of the "Wishing Tree"

So, it looks like the holidays are really shaping up to be…well, the holidays, especially with all the wintry weather happening all over the country. I never thought I’d be saying this, because no one really likes to be alone for Christmas, but I’m really grateful that I’m not traveling. Have you seen the footage of people waiting and waiting at airports across the U.S.? It’s pretty awful. My parents are holed up in the Pacific Northwest under 12 inches of snow and not leaving the house, so it’s even better that I’m not flying there this year.

In spite of all the seeming obstacles to having a good holiday season, it seems that people are really trying to overcome the “blahs” that usually are associated with a bad economy, times of war, job loss, the loss of anything intelligent or entertaining on television. There is much talk of families gravitating back to what is familiar, like the “good old days” of the past—playing board games and bringing quality family time back. Families are definitely not at the mall. Perhaps all this bonding will even have a permanent positive effect on people.

I’m hopeful that that is the case. People may be cutting back, but I’m really seeing slight signs that they want to express genuine cheer this year, rather than the usually gripes and frustration because they can’t find that “it” gift for their significant other, husband, wife, or child. While I don’t have to worry about shopping for the “fam” since we’re not exchanging gifts this year, I am seeing little signs in my life that everything is going to be okay…

When I first moved into my neighborhood in New York City, I fell in love with the house across the street. It was a yellow Colonial and had a two-story pine tree situated slightly in front and to the left of the house. My first holiday season here, I discovered that the owner always covered the tree in beautiful lights. When the snow would fall, it would cover the front lawn brightening the whole corner with the glow of the lights against the fluffy whiteness. I used to call it the “Wishing Tree” because it was seemed so perfect. It was a reminder to me of my dreams and what I wanted to achieve when I first arrived in the Big Apple. When its lights came into view as I walked down the block from the bus, the "Wishing Tree" would always give me the sense that everything would work out.

Since I moved back to my old attic apartment from the West Coast in 2005, I realized that the lights no longer lit the street with its cheeriness. I’m still not certain if the home changed hands or if it was a move towards being more green (an irony in itself!), but for the last few years, the house has exhibited no holiday spirit whatsoever. It was even painted an uninspired drab color, which makes its Colonial glory blend into the background…until this year. I was excited to see that while the tree remains lightless, the house's front dormer is adorned with a simple tasteful string of lights. Until the snowfall, the house and tree remained undefined in the cold December night, but finally, I’m once again inspired by the fact the lights glow against the fluffy whiteness of the snow. Now that’s Christmas!

We all know that Oprah, Martha and Rach all have their favorite things. I’m no domestic goddess, but check out my blog later this week for my own personal favorites of 2008. I'll be spending Christmas Eve with other wayward friends in Washington Heights eating great food and enjoying a variety of wines. I hope you, too, have a very happy holiday season!


William F. Renzulli said...

Wishing you a wonderful Christmas.

rob ijbema said...

our christmass is a bit more low key this year...and why not,we've got to much anyway,slow down lovely people,slow down and enjoy!
thanks for your nic e comment on my blg paulie,have a fine new year