My Very Special Christmas Tree
Madeline Weatherford

  

Christmas was the most special holiday of all for my father.  The preparations, gift buying, and decorations were no trouble to him and just added to his overall enjoyment.

I was introduced to my first Christmas tree when I was nine days old.  Mother told me that it was a small tree, but every ornament, candle, and piece of silver tinsel were meticulously hung in place, as only my father could do it.  When he had finished, he took me from my bassinet and held me up to see his handiwork.

There were to be just four more of Daddy's Christmas trees--each one a little larger than the year before.  And, of course, as I grew older his delight in Christmas rubbed off on me and it became my favorite holiday, too.

However, this year was going to be different.  A short bout with pneumonia in February had snuffed out Daddy's life.

As Christmas drew near, Mother sat down with me and as gently as she could explained, "Madeline, we won't be able to have a tree and decorations this year because we're in mourning."

"In mourning" meant nothing to a four-going-on-five-year-old little girl.  

I missed my wonderful daddy and my once gay and beautiful mother, now weighed down by her grief.

Christmas Eve arrived with no special arrangements for the next day, other than early Mass and dinner with relatives.  In the afternoon the phone rang and Mother answered.

"Oh, hello Mrs. Dreyfus," she said.  And after a pause, "That's very kind, but I think we'll spend the evening here together.  It's the first since--"  She recovered and thanked Mrs. Dreyfus and hung up.

Mrs. Dreyfus was one of several Jewish families who lived in our apartment house.  They had been wonderful to Mother in helping her meet her sorrow and adjust to widowhood.

"What did she want?" I asked.

"She wanted us to come down this evening.  I--can't."

"Oh, please, Mother," I cried.  "She always has hot cocoa for me."

Mother was silent most of the day, and later in the evening she changed her mind.  She called Mrs. Dreyfus and told her we'd stop in for a few minutes.  "It's kind of her," Mother said, "and thank goodness they won't have any Christmas decorations."

We rang the doorbell and Mrs. Dreyfus welcomed us into the foyer.  The living room beyond seemed dark with an odd-colored glow.

She led us into the living room, where we were greeted with cries of "Merry Christmas."  Seated around a beautifully decorated Christmas tree were Mrs. Abrams, Mrs. Cohen, and Mrs. Blount.  Under the tree were gaily decorated packages for us.  And Mrs. Dreyfus didn't disappoint me.  There was cocoa for me and coffee for the ladies.

There have been many trees since then--big, small, fresh, and artificial--but I always think of that one as my very special Christmas tree.  I'll never forget those loving, caring people who shared in an unfamiliar custom so that one little girl without a daddy could have a Merry Christmas.

Today I can close my eyes and bring back that scene at will.  Many times it has sustained me when things have gone badly, for I can still feel the warmth and love of those neighbors.  It taught me the true meaning of Christmas--the brotherhood of man.

  

Guideposts for the Spirit--
Christmas Stories of Faith

A beautiful and touching collection
of Christmas memories and reflections.
This book is full of Christmas spirit,
one that I keep out in the living room
for the entire Christmas season, as I
read and re-read stories that help
me to keep in mind the true meaning
of Christmas.
Highly recommended for anyone
who has even a small bit
of Christmas spirit!

  
    

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