December 2nd, 2006

ozarque figure

Christmas trees....

When I was a small child, Christmas trees were the closest thing to Heavenly Visions a small child could ever have asked for. For me, each of the colored lights was a huge radiant star of twinkling rays around a brilliant center, and because they were so huge they were overlapping radiant stars of twinkling rays ... those lights were an extraordinary sight for a small child. The malformation of my eyes was severe enough that they weren't symmetrical .... some rays were longer than others ... which made them even more glorious. Every time I saw one of these trees I was just stunned. I couldn't believe there could be anything so beautiful in the world, and yet there it was, right before my eyes.

This all came to a halt when I was eight or so and a teacher discovered that I needed glasses. After that, when I looked at Christmas tree lights (or any of the other Christmas lights that were hung everywhere,) I just saw a colored light bulb, like everybody else. It was a shock to me, and a great disappointment, but it had a handy remedy; I just took off my glasses when I looked at a Christmas tree, and I had the Heavenly Vision back. This was my first encounter with the question of what is really "real," and I thought about it a lot. I was of the opinion that the way the Christmas lights looked when I had my glasses off was the way they really looked -- but of course that had built into it the premise that that would also be true for the blank blackboard which was all I could see without my glasses, despite the fact that my glasses showed it with writing on it. And so on through all the world around me. I decided at that point that there must be various different categories of reality, and I will admit that I haven't yet changed my mind about that. But I Digress....

Now things have come full circle, because now -- after my cataract surgeries -- what I see with my glasses off is plain colored light bulbs. To see the lights the way I know they really are, I have to put on glasses.

I'm going to be decorating my Christmas tree today, thanks to my husband's intransigence yesterday, and I'm looking forward to it. I have almost all of the ornaments from my grandmother's white-feather Christmas tree; tiny glass ones, many of them quite faded, but my favorites. I have just three ornaments left from my first marriage, and they're a strange assortment. One is a red plastic poppy, the last remaining from a set of twelve that Peter and I bought at Marshall Field's (one dollar for the whole set), and used to trim a tree we put up for ourselves at his fraternity house at the University of Chicago. The other two are very worn and bedraggled small dolls we bought in France, in their provincial costumes. I have a very handsome wizard and witch couple, complete with crystal ball and peaked hat and all the trimmings, given to me by my younger daughter. I have several sets of angels, including a beautiful brand new set made for me for this year's birthday by my older daughter. I have so many ornaments that the final result once they're all on the tree is 21st Century Eclectic ... none of your Martha Stewart elegance. And I have a Christmas tree skirt which is actually the skirt of a red velvet dress given to me when I was in high school, a dress I always hated; it works far better as a Christmas tree skirt than it did as half of a dress.

Very satisfactory. Merry Whatever Winter Holiday You Celebrate! And I will take this opportunity to tell you that you'll find the links to my science fiction filksong carols at , and the recipe for the fruitcake that I make for Christmas every year -- nothing like the stereotypical fruitcake, I promise -- at .