When my children were young, we would sometimes have a live Christmas tree but most often we would have an artificial tree. My Mother purchased a life-like artificial tree when I was a pre-teen. It had plastic greenery that was shaped like the foliage on a real tree. It even had pinecones. We loved it. When my parents decided to forego the Christmas tree tradition they gave the tree to me to use with my young family. I patched it as it aged and began to fall apart. We used it until it could no longer stand and support its branches. It lasted until my kids were grown. I then found an artificial half Christmas tree. I could place it flush with the wall and only worry about decorating the side that faced the room. About five years ago, I went to a quarter tree. I love it almost as much as I loved the tree of my youth. It fits snuggly into a corner in my great room, goes up in a flash, and requires much fewer ornaments. It even has built-in lights! My kids joke about my continually shrinking Christmas tree, and suspect that in a Christmas in the not-too-distant-future they will arrive at my house to find that I’ve moved on to a Christmas branch, with one or two ornaments and a mini-flashlight from Harbor Freight twist-tied to the top.
This is similar to the evolution of my Christmas baking and cooking. When my kids were young, I would bake dozens of dozens of cookies. I would bake pumpkin and mincemeat bread in quantities that threatened the world supply of those Christmas staples. Phil and I would toil to make 20 plus dozen tamales. This would be done while holding down jobs and raising children in a home filled with Christmas joy and the resulting fatigue, frustration and income outpouring. My children have chosen to block most of those happy memories. My children, having long since left elementary school, no longer require classroom quantities of cookies. In retirement, I no longer have co-workers to shower with home-baked goodies. In the old-age that typically accompanies retirement, my baking demands have shrunk, much like my Christmas tree. Isn’t old age and retirement GREAT!
This year, Coronavirus-related restrictions have further decreased my baking demands. Mincemeat and pumpkin supplies are again safe. The Great Pumpkin that rose from the field on Halloween this year, illuminated by the full moon, but not witnessed by trick-or-treaters (which is sad, because they could have seen it more clearly with all of the light provided by that big bright moon) is safe. There are many more cookies and much more holiday breads that will not be leaving my home and will be available for me to snack on. My Christmas tree may be getting smaller, but I’m getting bigger. Merry COVID-19 Christmas.