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.