So many baubles smashed.

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There was one Christmas when my father in a fit of rage
pulled our Christmas tree up by its branches and ripped it from its soil filled
pot in one corner of the lounge room.
The tree fell heavily and there was a clattering of baubles, a sea of cut glass that my mother later tiptoed through with
her dustpan and brush.
My father sulked
off to his room.
Some of the Christmas
baubles had come from Holland, where they had once adorned the
Christmas trees of my mother’s childhood. 
Through them she had held onto hope for a better life on the other side
of the world.
 
Did she lose hope then, at the sight of the smashed tear
drop bauble, the one that hung from the topmost branch and glittered from its
many edges?  This was a bauble
renowned for its shape and the way its maker had caved in one side and filled
it with a different colour and texture from the smooth round outside.
 
How could my father have done this?  How could one person so destroy the
beauty of Christmas?
 
It was never the same again.  So many baubles smashed. 
Over the next few years we went to
Southland and bought new trinkets to put on the tree but none so glorious as
those that came from Holland.
Today my mother is too old and tired for a tree.  She
prefers her ancient nativity set, careful as ever to leave the baby Jesus
hidden behind the crib until Christmas eve.  

Once more this Christmas one of my daughters has decorated
a potted olive tree from our back garden with origami birds and butterflies in
subtle colours, alongside the glow of white lights from Target.
 
In our house where no nativity scene appears, there is only
the spirit of Christmas, a time when tensions are high but love cuts deepest;
where we help one another; think of one another; grow frustrated with one
another and sigh at the advancing of another year’s ending. 
May your Christmas be as good as mine, with all its hard
edges and joy.  
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12 Comments on So many baubles smashed.

  1. diane b
    December 22, 2013 at 12:18 am (4 years ago)

    An interesting and truthful perspective on Christmas.

    Reply
  2. Andrew
    December 22, 2013 at 12:47 am (4 years ago)

    What an awful thing for a child to experience an how must your mother have felt.

    Best wishes.

    Reply
  3. capacina
    December 22, 2013 at 2:58 am (4 years ago)

    Merry Christmas To All

    Reply
  4. ellen abbott
    December 22, 2013 at 3:11 am (4 years ago)

    Not a seasonal event I care for exactly. I no longer believe in the Christian view of the world and from about the time I was 12, it was no longer a looked forward to with delight day. I long ago quit celebrating it in any fashion though I do give gifts to my grandchildren.

    Reply
  5. River
    December 22, 2013 at 9:51 am (4 years ago)

    I had an ex who picked up a two metre plum tree in its terracotta pot and threw the whole thing against the wall. (outside) Scared the pants off me.
    I remember the delicacy of many European baubles, my m um had some she'd brought from Germany. When she left us, she took them with her and now they're just gone, I have no idea what happened to them.
    I think that decorated olive tree is beautiful.
    I haven't bothered with decorating this year.

    Reply
  6. PhilipH
    December 22, 2013 at 7:48 pm (4 years ago)

    Xmas is no longer a 'merry' event. It is now a long and dreary spell of stress and strain for too many people.

    I give a few quid to the grandkids to do whatever the wish and that's the full extent of my involvement nowadays.

    It's just a pointless ritual as far as I'm concerned and I make no bones about it. OK, many retailers would go bust without it but so what? Less tat, less waste, less nonsense.

    Happy New Year, may it be even happier to all.

    Reply
  7. Kirk
    December 22, 2013 at 9:22 pm (4 years ago)

    That's the problem with holidays. We're all expected to be joyous at the exact moment, no matter how unequal our fortunes may be.

    Reply
  8. R.H.
    December 23, 2013 at 3:16 pm (4 years ago)

    The best I can say for my father is that he loved spectacle, Luna Park was his favourite. But no amount of spectacle will excite some people, they're just dullards, pimps for misery, not worth knowing.

    Reply
  9. Jim Murdoch
    December 23, 2013 at 4:01 pm (4 years ago)

    We exchanged gifts yesterday since my daughter has to fit in three Christmases and we don’t care when we do it. It went better than expected. It always goes better than I expect but this year I really wasn’t looking forward to it and then three and a half hours later it was all done until next year. Everyone was pleased with at least some of their pressies and made out as if they were really pleased with them all as you do. My daughter got me a copy of S. which was a brave choice since I review regularly for Canongate but I missed that one; even though I’d expressed an interest I hadn’t exactly begged for a copy. It’s the oddest of books and I’m rather glad I was never sent a review copy because then I’d feel obliged to review it and I’m not sure I’ll even finish it since the story is handwritten in the margins of pretend library book. I’ve made a start on it but it’s hard going. Carrie got me a moustache cup which is an odd thing, a cup with a built-in moustache protector. Nice idea but makes a slurping noise if the coffee’s a bit on the hot side. (I hate slurping.)

    My daughter never bothered with a tree last year. I suppose since they spent the holidays in other people’s homes it seemed like a waste of time. We got new lights and baubles this year so it feels like a new tree.

    It’s our wedding anniversary today. Sixteen years I’m told. We never do much for it since it’s so close to Christmas. I got her a card and chocolates. She gave me sixteen tokens for back rubs which I immediately handed back to her saying, “I’ll redeem them all—now!” I do like my back rubs. Or neck rubs. Being a writer does have its drawbacks.

    Not been doing much for the last week bar read—a book a day (albeit a short book) for the last few days—because I’ve not really felt up to anything else; my sleep cycle’s gone to pot again and I feel wrecked all the time at the moment. Lots of headaches too. Swallowed two migraine pills before my daughter was due to arrive. Helped considerably.

    And that’s us. So I wish you well, hope yours goes as smoothly as ours did and we’ll see you on the other side.

    Reply
  10. Rob-bear
    December 26, 2013 at 3:25 am (4 years ago)

    Anger is such a destructive experience, and is rarely ever forgotten.

    Our Christmas tree is a little over a foot high. It has a few lights and ornaments, mostly little gifts from friends over the years.

    Christmas is a time that leaves me very depressed. Though this has probably been the best Christmas in 15 years. Body and soul still hurt, but it is at least manageable this year. It takes me a lot of time and effort to work my way trough the Christmas story, because it is very complicated, with a lot of accretions (like barnacles), which stagger the contemporary mind. Like the relative futility of "Peace on earth, good will to men" and woman.

    Blessings and Christmas Bear hugs!

    Reply
  11. R.H.
    December 28, 2013 at 10:19 am (4 years ago)

    One of my most abiding early memories is when a ("big") girl aged about nine held me down on the grass and kissed me on the forehead; I don't think we make up memories, it's rather that as they become more distant they seem less real. I've thought about this girl for many decades, too long for her to be made up. But still, it's a struggle to keep her.

    Reply
  12. Tommaso Gervasutti
    December 29, 2013 at 8:03 pm (4 years ago)

    What a terrible fit of rage, uprooting a Christmas tree, it reminds me of a sort of behaviour my own father often had…a bit shocking for children…not to recommend…
    Maybe a bit of "King Learish" too..but it depends..

    All my best wishes of a Happy New Year.
    Davide
    Venice

    Reply

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