Thursday, November 20, 2008

"HOPE" - The Tree - Is Here

We went to Lowe's On Tuesday. I really don't like stores so big and cold. We went to get a new Christmas tree. We always have fun where ever we go, what ever we do, so the minor inconveniences were of little consequence given the joy of just being together, out and about.

And Yes, we caved a few years back and stopped buying live Christmas trees. It was a really difficult decision despite the event that pushed us to it. This particular year we 'top loaded' our wood stove before going to bed. When one top loads, the stove is quite full and to add to the intense heat we closed the doors of the stove.. It was a cold, cold night and we believed this would keep our home warm until morning. Our live Christmas tree was decorated beautifully and standing proudly in the same room as our wood stove, now roaring with fire. At some point in the middle of the night we were awakened by the loud beeping of the fire alarm. We had never heard it before, thank goodness and it was alarming us for sure. We both jumped out of bed and ran downstairs. At first glance, our jet black Vigilante wood stove was now a glowing red. The entire stove had changed colors due to the intense heat. Next we both felt the heat filling the room, so intense it was stifling. I was close to our tree and I intuitively touched it and the needles fell off like dried up leaves. It was seconds away from going up in flames. Skipp began throwing open doors and windows to let the cold air in to lower the temperatures. He knew he had to open the doors of the stove to lessen it's power to burn. He was over three feet away from the stove and still the hairs on both of his arms burned off like cigarette ash. He jumped back moaning. I was petrified. Eventually, with the handle of a long metal shovel he was able to flip the latch on the doors of the wood stove. That, combined with the cold air filtering in from the now opened doors and windows the stove slowly began to change colors and become black again. The air cooled and we were out of harms way. Most of the pine needles were on the rug and our tree stood there, brittle and bare. Our ornaments survived. The following Christmas we purchased our first artificial Christmas tree. Amen.

Artificial trees eventually need to be replaced and this was the year for just that. We looked at many and finally find one that was a natural color and just the right size. While there I noticed a display of live pine trees. The kind in pots and that stood about four feet or so. One in particular was quite lovely. It's needles actually sparkled like it was sprinkled with tiny diamond dust. It was the only one like that. I swear, the only one. I called Skipp over, (he wanders off), and suggested we put this lovely Norfolk Pine outside our front door and later plant it outside. He thought it was a great idea. We had one of those 'flat-bed' long metal carts and he placed the tree on the cart along with our new artificial tree. She was so beautiful. As I waited by the cart, (Skipp was off looking for decorations for his restaurant). He won the best decorated restaurant for Christmas last year and intends to win again. Anyway, as I was sitting there guarding both trees, yes sitting. I travel with my 'Rollator'. It has it's own seat so if I get fatigued I can simply rest for a bit. I am still amazed at how much attention it draws when a person simply "sits for a spell" - whatever. An employee happened by and kindly asked if I needed any help. Apparently when one sits it is assumed help is needed. My experience with this deserves it's own post, it truly does. I asked her if the lovely Norfolk Pine could be in direct sun light. She replied that so long as it is placed at least a foot from a window it would be fine. I was confused, so I questioned, "Why would it need to be a foot from a window while outside?" She replied, "oh no, this tree cannot be outside, it wont survive in temperatures under 40 degrees, this is an inside tree only." I was quite dismayed as I envisioned our home with little room for a tree of this size. I waved to Skipp to come over and told him the news. We both felt we simply didn't have the room. I felt SO badly. I watched as he lifted her off the cart and placed her back on the display with the others. She stood out boldly and beautifully, still shimmering with diamond dust. I felt like I was abandoning this tree - that she belonged with us. I actually was quite sad.

Skipp finished getting decorations and we checked out and left. I could not get that tree out of my mind. I felt like I had abandoned her. Oh I know this is all wrapped in other experiences and I don't care. Maybe this is the grandest of all metaphors, again, I don't care. I know what I felt and it was real. I had a hard time sleeping. By morning I was thinking of ways to rearrange our living room by the picture window to make room for the tree and now I had named her, "HOPE". I shared with Skipp how I was feeling and he joined me in figuring out how we could make room for 'HOPE." We did, with little effort and he got in the car and drove back to Lowe's to get her. I was SO excited I could hardly stand it. Rather than drag me along, rollator in tow, we both felt it would be faster and easier if he went alone. I continued rearranging items and other plants making a perfect place for "HOPE.". I also asked him to get a strand of white lights for her. I opened the door as he carried "HOPE" in to our home and emotionally watched as he placed "HOPE' by our front door and window. She fit perfectly. We put on the lights and we both immediately felt wonderful.

A new tradition has been born with "HOPE." I realized that this Norfolk Pine is a tangible reflection of hope. In honoring that thinking, we hung two items on her diamond dust needles. Items that mean 'hope' to us. I hung a necklace my daughter and children gave me with a little blue stone and tiny diamonds with the hope of family unity and love. Skipp hung a peace rock on a string that his sons carved for him, representing his hope for them to always be at peace. We are asking people to bring something to hang on 'Hope-the tree' that represents hope to them. I am going to keep a small book of what people bring and when and why. This tree will be filled with 'hope'.

I am thrilled by this opportunity. I am in awe of how it came to be. The attraction and draw I felt to her was strong and determined. I was very unsettled when we left her at the store. I was calm and peaceful when Skipp brought "HOPE" home.

"HOPE" is here...........


P.S. If any of you, my readers, wish to send me something to hang on "HOPE'-the tree, we can work it out. I would love if if you did.


Anonymous said...

My favorite part of the story is that Pa knew how much it meant to you and so as soon as you told him how you felt, he worked on finding space for her.
My goodness, do I love the two of you. Like parents...not fake ones either!
You already know what I have picked out for hope. I love being apart of your traditions. It makes me happier than you may ever know.
I love you.
Sophie Lennon

PENolan said...

Norfolk pines are beautiful trees. Personally, I like the spacing between the branches and the tiny needles. Glad you took Hope home.

Comrade Kevin said...

I'd be glad to contribute, Gail. But what would help me considerably is if you told me what hope means to you. :-)

Gail said...

To Sophie Lennon - We love you too and I am always in awe, at how, at such a tender age you are so wise, you are an "Ole soul" for sure.
Love, Gailee

To Trish - yes, the spacing is perfect and her tiny needles are sprinkled with diamond dust. She is breath taking.
Love, Gail

To Kevin- What I believe about 'hope' is simple and yet strong. Hope for me means that in the darkest of times I don't give up. Add to that my belief that where I may be weak or troubled there are always elements or parts of my life that are still bright and vibrant and in acknowledging that, and at times holding on for dear life to that, I am given the strength to go on. And sometimes, when I feel broken I hang on to the strength and balance of those closest to me that I know love me and me them.
I hope this helped Kevin.
Love, Gail

peace to you all.


To Gail

I have just read some of your posts. I like your writings and would like to visit again.

If you love paintings and short stories, then a short visit to my blogs would be a good idea.

Naval Langa

Gail said...

Hi Naval-

"Welcome". Thank you for cominhg by, plase visit whenever you like. I took a brief view of your blog(s). You are quite involved and in tune with the arts. Fascinating. I plan to view much more.

Again, "thank you" for visiting and I look forward to our 'blog exchanges'. :-)


To Ms. Gail

You are heartily welcome to my blogspace. I have read this post with interest. I like the order of successive sentences you have put into the piece of writing. it reflects the simplicity of a writer's mind. I would be visiting to read more.

Naval Langa

Fallen Angel said...

Oh Gail, what a beautiful story!

Perhaps next year you could get a bird for Hope's branches, built a community of nature uprooted and forced indoors. Or perhaps you could kidnap a baby squirrel from its mother and name him Charley.

I want to help you decorate. I have captured a porcupine for you. He will gnaw and gnaw Hope down, so she doesn't grow too tall and collapse your ceiling. I will name him for you. His name is Quonsett, which in porcupine means, "Remember, everyone has a voice, so take the time to listen".

And what a lovely compliment from Naval, and I paraphrase--Only a simple mind such as yours could write one sentence after another.

If you don't post this, I'm not coming to dinner tomorrow.

Gail said...


My, my......such intimacy between us - so much so, - that you quote one of my favorite sayings - "everyone has a voice, so take the time to listen" I love that you SO appreciate my sentiments that you re-write them as a way to, well, honor me. You are too kind.

And I love birds and squirrels. Although I know you jest in suggesting I would take a baby from it's mother. And your silliness about the porcupine - yet another example of your love. Humor is such a statement of love and knowledge between two people and it is so evident that we have that. Isn't it all just so wonderful?

So don't fret, of course I would publish your loving and funny comment, of course. So you just come on over here for dinner. So many surpirses await you.

Isn't family love just the best?

peace....and yes, "everyone has a voice so take the time to listen"....

Diana said...

I loved this story Gail! Do you still have the hope tree? If so I would love to send you an ornament for it. I crochet ornaments too. This story reminded me of why we DON"T have artificial trees anymore. One of our cats chewed on one and nearly died but it's a long story. The vet told us to use real trees as that wouldn't harm the animals.
Please let me know about the ornament. Love Di