Reflections in Luminosity

I have three Christmas trees. One is a beautiful Balsam Fir I purchased from Balsam Hill. It was a treat I gave myself since I’ve enjoyed my tree so much the last couple of years. It’s perfect although Michael says I’m not fluffing it enough. (But he’s a bit compulsive about fluffing and maybe a few other things.) The other two trees are reflections of the first. And while they may not actually be additional trees, they give off as much light as an evergreen threesome. Reflections of light multiply luminosity. I don’t even need a lamp in my living room.

Oddly enough with all of this luminescence in my living room, the light doesn’t illuminate my face in Zoom calls. I had the idea the other night that I’d turn off the lamp because it was so bright in here, and I love the candlelight effect on my aging skin. But I looked like I was sitting in the dark. I was perplexed.

I researched reflection and refraction of light to see why this phenomena is occurring but I couldn’t really figure it out. And then I got bored because I’m actually more interested in Christmas trees than the science of reflection. I decorated my very first Christmas tree as an adult when I lived in Monroeville, Pennsylvania. I was married. It was our first Christmas, and I went to K-Mart or some such big box store and bought a small plastic-like Christmas tree and some ornaments with a Little Drummer Boy theme. In comparison to my beautiful tree today it wasn’t much, but it was my first.

The next decade was a Southern Living Christmas decorating extravaganza featuring live greenery spray-painted silver and gold, fresh-cut trees and gaudy Christmas sweaters. Christmas became an event to plan for, decorate, share with others in lavish parties and then laboriously unravel after New Year’s. After we divorced, I continued to get live trees when I wasn’t traveling for the holidays. My second husband hated Christmas, so putting up trees during that marriage felt like yet another unbearable struggle, and I lost interest. It just wasn’t worth the effort.

Michael helped me with my first tree after my second divorce. I bought a live one at a little Midtown tree lot, and we dragged it up my stairs to my small apartment in Memphis. I call it The Crying Tree because I spent that Christmas bathing in its light while grieving the loss of my marriages and fearing I would never be happy. Ironically, it is the tree that I remember the most. I spent so much time with it. The ornaments were gathered over decades of my life and each represented a memory of a person, a place or a significant event. While many of them reminded me of loss, their prominence on that tree helped me grieve and let go of the past.

I wouldn’t have another tree until a couple of years ago. Those ornaments from The Crying Tree are gathering dust in a box that I can’t bring myself to open. Photos of my long-ago stepchildren who I no longer see, pets that are deceased and gifts from people no longer in my life remind me of what I’ve lost and not what I’ve gained. I’ll go through them one day…. or not. But loss is not what I want to see reflected in my window. I want sparkly beauty that multiplies into explosions of light. I want the gentle caress of candlelight that illuminates the present and has the potential to light up my future. I chose classic glass ornaments for their lovely reflective properties. I love my Memphis tree for what it gave me, and I love all of my trees for what they represented. But, for this moment, I love my three Michigan Christmas trees the best. And, even though they don’t illuminate my face, they light up my heart.

4 Comments on “Reflections in Luminosity

  1. Hi, Sharon – such synchronicity that I just read this blog. This year I had every intention of doing a little decorating, even in our temporary 700 sq. foot condo. I bought a small Norfolk Island Pine at WalMart with hideous little red and gold bows attached. My plan was to take the bows off as soon as I got it home from the store, which was right after Thanksgiving. Life intervened, as you know, with my sister’s medical condition, numerous trips to New Orleans to visit her, difficulty finding good caregivers, etc., so, as it happens, not only did I never do any decorating, I only got around to taking off the ugly bows 30 minutes ago. I removed the bows from the cute little plant, walked into the kitchen and announced to John that I had just taken down the Christmas decorations – it took all of 30 seconds.

    I’ve also got a Balsam Hill tree that is currently stored in the rafters of my sister’s garage. It will need to wait until we’re in a larger, more permanent space. I also have ornaments collected over the 44 years since I married my ex-husband. Some break my heart, as you say of your crying tree, others remind me of good times, many are from my years of travelling the world, when the only souvenirs I allowed myself were a small Christmas ornament for each place visited. I also have a collection of Santas, most collected from flea markets and garage sales, that I love as well. But they will wait for another year. Happy New Year, dear friend!

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