The Rabbi’s Great Granddaughter and the Xmas Tree

I have a poem called “The rabbi’s granddaughter and the Xmas tree.” It’s about my mother’s love of anything bright and shiny and her love of an annual Christmas tree. She had grown up extremely poor and often moving –her father was a radical union organizer eventually killed by the Pinkertons. Her mother was the daughter of a rabbi in a small stetl in the pale of settlement and very pious. The Christmas tree, besides pleasing my mother aesthetically, represented some kind of social acceptance. she’d faced a lot of anti-Semitism.

Once I left home, I never had a Christmas tree until my mother was dying. She gave me a box of old ornaments, some of them Czech made from before World War II. We came home from her funeral with her ashes on my lap—she died while we were in the air flying south on standby. My father shut off her air before I could get there after she had a stroke. When we got home, we chopped down a small pitch pine on our property and put her ornaments on it along with some of my costume jewelry. Since then we’ve had a tree. She died on the first night of Hannukah. I observe her yahrzeit with a memorial candle that burns all night in the bathtub [lest the cats knock it over] and say kaddish for her.

We went on stealing a pitch pine every year, usually from the old railroad bed where they grew bushier, until Woody was elected selectman for the first time. He said we couldn’t steal the greens any longer. I remembered balsam fir from my childhood and that’s what we buy every year. Over the decades since my mother’s death, we have accumulated many ornaments, especially birds, animals and vegetables. Some we bought after the holidays, some we were given. Our tree is especially gaudy, crowded with ornaments. People are often mesmerized by it and try to find all the different animals – cats, birds, a camel, a cow, two pigs, butterflies and insects, many frogs, snails, dolphins, tigers, a leopard, lions, dinosaurs, apples, cucumber, grapes, corn, a pear, an eggplant, etc., etc. the whole lower 4th of the tree is all unbreakable, so the cats can have a number of ‘kills’ every night without breaking the glass ornaments. Schwartzie has been sleeping under the tree at night.

Friday we had Paul and Dan over for pizza. Saturday I woke up sick, a terrible racking cough and runny nose. That’s why I’m late with the blog this week. It’s Sunday as I’m continuing with this, still sick and very weak. I just tried to pull the sheets off the bed to wash, but I couldn’t. Woody is off to the gym and the week’s grocery shopping. I’m coughing less violently than yesterday – so far.

The obstreperous Mac when I sent my novel to my agent, riddled it with typos on every page. The chapters before I sent them and still on my computer have no such errors. I so look forward to getting rid of this damned computer. It is possessed. I was too sick to sleep much last night but finally slept from 3:30 to 5 a.m. and then from 5:45 to 7:45. I have to go through the entire two long files I sent Robin and then when I get them all corrected, resend around January 3rd. I was hoping to be done with the novel, but no way now.

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