December 22, 2010

The First Annual Tree

New Year's Tree 2010

(That's fun with the long exposure time, right?)

Last week we bought our first seasonal fir tree. I am totally thrilled. I've written about it before, but as a recap - I grew up having a tree every New Year's (the Russian nonreligious winter lights + gift exchange holiday), and although my nostalgia for it waxed and mostly waned through the I'm-too-cool years, ever since Lara was born I have been feeling like she is being deprived.

Deprived of what, exactly? I have only vague memories of the ceiling-scraping trees my parents put up and decorated every year. Mainly, I remember staying up past my bedtime, spying on the tree, and then proudly debunking the myth of Ded Moroz, the kindly old man who supposedly rode around on a sleigh behind a troika of horses and brought presents to all the boys and girls. Spoiler alert - the presents actually came from my parents.

On the other hand, I do have intense memories of the tiny, artificial tree that one of my grandmothers would set up every year. The memories are strange: not very visual, and instead almost entirely sensual. I wouldn't actually be able to describe what any of the miniature ornaments on it. But I strongly remember a kind of gut feeling of awe, magic, and delight - and a slight sense of taboo, probably because I wasn't allowed to handle any of the little hanging things.

Why was this the tree that made such an indelible impression? I have no idea. Maybe because it was one of the very few ways that our usually non-materialistic family expressed the specialness of objects. Or maybe simply because I loved small versions of everyday things. Either, way this year I am happy that we started what I hope will be an annual tradition - and maybe even a way to leave a little bit of magic in Lara and Jakey's memories.

2 comments:

ANI said...

I knew from the age of about 3 that Ded Moroz was just my dad's coworker, all dressed up. It didn't help that we lived the furthest away from his job, and my Ded Moroz would always show up around midnight, drunk, and proceed to drink with my parents after the obligatory стишок recited in order to get the present. In other words, I am totally with you on the tree memories:)

smjohnson said...

A dear friend of mine who is Russian was telling me about her holiday/New Year's traditions. I'm still a little unsettled by the idea of a guy named Ded Moroz (makes me think "dead" and "morose") handing out trinkets, but I love the idea that a tree doesn't just have to be for Christmas celebrations. Family traditions also just seem so much more exciting when passing them down to the wee ones, no?