(With apologies to Boz)
I fancied I was gazing at some worthy modern representative of Dickens' "Pretty German Toy", or Christmas Tree to you.
I imagined that I gazed more and more deeply, until I saw past the lights and the tinsel, into the darkest wood and green, and a peculiar sort of reverie fell upon me, so that I was no longer quite either there or not there. The colored lights and candles seemed to grow and encircle me, and I felt myself drawn through the branches and into the very heart of the venerable evergreen...
And before me suddenly there were faces: Daughter and Wife, smiling -- smiling and looking younger, and younger yet, until I observed that we were back in older houses, and I watched in renewed amazement as Clara retraced her very first steps, originally taken on a much earlier Christmas Day.
And then there were brothers, many brothers, and of course a Mother, and many a champagne bottle was re-corked as fraternal families grew younger, and slipped away.
And houses changed, and mountains sunk into the sea, and yet my Tree remained. And around it there were books, and guitars, and dvd's and cd's, soon replaced by video tapes and cassettes. I saw old revered traditions returned to the moment of their birth, and now both parents were looking on, waiting till I should be young enough to be talked to again.
And now there were records -- yes, and Beatles records -- new Beatles records, I must say! And there are "Incredible Edibles" and "Creepy Crawlers", and genuine James Bond Attache Cases, and there are Uncles, and occasionally silverhaired Aunts, and a movie projector, and suddenly Raggedy Ann and Gulliver are in our very bedroom!
Now are all the grandparents restored to us, and now the champagne returns, and then even the great-grandparents, living links to the Old Century, and there is laughter and love, and I grow smaller and smaller, until--
And suddenly I am in a great old house, with windows strangely tiny and high up, and the television is gone, replaced by a large and beautiful radio, out of which the One True Scrooge, Lionel Barrymore, is casting his spell over listeners from coast to coast in his yearly "Christmas Carol".
The toys grow fewer, and simpler, until they are mostly home-made, and yet they are all the more prized for that. The great house is changed and smaller, and the room is darker, the only light coming from the candles that now adorn the tree. And outside there are cattle lowing.
Deeper into the Tree I go, to Deck the Halls in Merry England, and sing of Tannenbaums in the great forests of Old Germany, and now I am a servant, and now a Royal, and always there is the Tree, and still deeper into the branches I go, until at length there is a beauteous light, which grows and covers the earth, and then--
And then before me suddenly there are faces: Daughter and Wife, smiling.
I have come to the heart of the Tree, and of the Season, and found my own.