A Tree in the Night (ms)

The light is fading, the sun going off to lighten up some other part of the world. It is December and so this is the way it is. To catch the last few rays of fading sun and to get a bit of fresh air I walk out the back door to stand on our deck. Often it’s cold with a wind.

The snow is but a thin crust this early on. Leaves now dried out, their autumn color gone entirely, skitter across the frozen snow making noises like a cat walking on crumpled newspapers might make. They’ll come to their final resting place soon enough and never be heard from or likely seen again. The sun goes behind the mountain to the west and the twilight that comes afterward is soon swallowed by the night. There will be stars then, of course, one of the rewarding features of a clear cold night. If it is not too bitterly cold I stand outside through all this admiring the handiwork of nature. If I am truly fortunate my final reward of the evening comes soon afterward.

My neighbors have put up a Christmas tree on the back deck, directly in my line of view as I stand at my own door. Each evening when the family is home a switch is thrown inside and the tree ignites — that is what I am waiting for. The tree is not large and there aren’t many bulbs but there is a bright star at the top and a few ornaments. I suppose someone in the family told me once why they chose to put it up but that has slipped my mind. It doesn’t really matter. All that matters is that the tree is there.

Not many folks will see it, just those in the neighborhood and only those who happen to go out back on some kind of business that can only be done at night. There is scant little of that this time of year so the tree performs nightly to a sold out house of empty seats save for the guy off to one side who silently applauds as the curtain goes up.

I am not sure why I’m attracted to this particular tree, waiting for it to shine again. There are certainly bigger trees, trees with more decoration, more stature in decorating circles and I needn’t go far to find them. But I like this tree. Maybe I see it as lonely, no one coming by to visit, to admire, to appreciate. Just me, maybe a neighbor or two. Lately I’m thinking that it truly represents Christmas standing alone as one bright shining star in the dark cold night that is winter.

We need something to believe in so that we might conclude that there’s at least an outside chance we’re part of something bigger, something we think about perhaps once a year at Christmas and then only when we see something like the little tree that shines so brightly. The tree may play to an audience of one but it is a most appreciative audience indeed.

–Mike Stevens

~ by admin on December 19, 2010.

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