It's a sassy, plump and straight evergreen, I believe a member of the piñón pine family, but with no unruly branches. It stands like a sentinel awaiting its year-end star turn when it becomes the most beautiful Christmas tree within miles and miles.
|A most beautiful tree, lighting up the desert night.|
The idea of a designated outdoor Christmas tree arose from our loathing of using "real" evergreens—which around here come from as far as Canada and the U.S.—simply to decorate our living room for fifteen days or so. It takes so long for an evergreen to grow to Christmas-tree size only to be tossed in the backyard. What a waste.
So three years ago Stew picked out this specimen that we had planted years before near the house by the driveway, and he and Félix began wrapping lights and hanging silver and blue ornaments around it. As the tree continues to grow, quickly and perfectly, we are going to have to buy additional strings of lights and a few more ornaments for next year.
Yesterday I caressed the tree branches find out if they had that piney aroma. The branches don't smell at all but they are tipped with tiny bundles of acorns getting ready to turn to needles next year. What I definitely felt from this beautiful tree was its sense of importance: Somehow it knows its seasonal role during Christmas, when only it and the stars dare shatter the darkness.
|Tiny acorns awaiting next year's Christmas.|
That's it. There are no neighborhood competitions to see how many thousands of lights one homeowner can hang on a house without burning up the electrical grid, the blare of "seasonal music" or inflatable Santas tumbling drunkenly in front yards.
Shopping centers in Mexico have taken up the clue from their American counterparts and install shrill, commercially designed light displays and Christmas trees. Several years ago the federal government began promoting a nationwide weekend shopping spree shamelessly patterned after Black Friday in the U.S.
But one doesn't feel any shopping frenzy as Christmas approaches. There is a one-night burst of shopping the day before Three Kings Day on January 6, when parents buy toys for the kids, but otherwise no real fervor to the Christmas shopping cycle. Have you ever heard of a horde of crazed Mexican shoppers trampling each other at a WalMart pre-Christmas sale? In the U.S., maybe.
Inside our home, Stew's childhood cardboard creche, which he bought at a Woolworths in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, some sixty years ago, made its annual appearance. The figures in the nativity scene still have their price stickers, ranging from five to ten cents. The only enhancements are a pine garland we bought a Norwegian gift shop in New York, and some sheep and farm animals made of sugar, left over from the Mexican Day of the Dead.
|For the past sixty years or so, direct from Woolworths in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.|
While talking to expat friends earlier this week about Christmas-in-exile experiences most agreed that what they liked most was the simplicity. No airport or expressway jams, no constant blare from retailers to buy, buy, buy. We might buy a gift for a special person, or have a nice quiet dinner at home.
Last night we attended a Christmas Eve service and dinner afterward with friends. This afternoon we're having dinner with friends who have relatives visiting from Britain.
Other than that, I just plan to take a quick walk at night to admire one more time the stars, and our perfect Christmas tree that we will keep lit until January 6.
Meanwhile, Merry Christmas everyone.