Sunday, December 16, 2007

The Christmas Tree

An evergreen tree stands precariously in
its stand a few feet from me. In a few hours,
when everyone's home, we'll turn it into a
Christmas tree. We'll use the same decorations
we've used since the kids were little and I think
maybe my kids - now hidden behind eyeliner,
six foot frames, and intectualizing (okay,
there's three of them and they're each
quite different) - have a little-kid-bond with
this piece of forest that enters our house
every December.

It's a Christmas tree that started my novel. In
fact a short story I wrote, "The Secret Christmas
Tree" was a finalist in a 2003 Writers' Union of
Canada contest. I'd hoped for the story to become a
picture book. One editor at a Canadian publishing
house sent me a very nice rejection letter and said
the story seemed to belong to a longer piece of work.
And so I started to surround my Christmas tree story
with what is now my debut novel.

No, I won't repeat the story here.
But my mom - almost 89 - and now closer to
the little girl she once was than ever before,
repeated her Christmas tree memory to me just
the other day. It's a memory of a 1929 Christmas
when Stalin had outlawed the religious event.

She even sang the old German carol she
remembered singing with her little brother.
Some of her details are different, of course from
my story. I've written a story, after all, and not a
memoir. But I hope I got the essence - the smell
of pine, the sense of secrecy and the magic that
Christmas is for a child - whether 9, 89,
or 19 years old for that matter.

I hope you're getting your to-do list checked off.
Enjoy the rush.

-gabe
Word of the day:
essence
the individual, real, or ultimate nature of a thing

(from Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary)

1 comment:

Barrie said...

Isn't it funny how a book begins? Mine started with a random rhino fact from one of my kid's grade three science project.

About the to-do list: I have a child home with the stomach flu today. Yuck. So, the list is basically on hold.