Here’s a picture of me and Brother #1 at Christmas, I think 1952. Our Christmas tree this year will come from the same woods that this one probably did. We don’t have it yet – I’ll have to send Onkel Hankie Pants out into the snowy woods for it this weekend. But if you don’t have a tree yet, it’s probably time to start thinking about it. So the story and song today are both about Christmas trees. (I’m hoping to get caught up today….)
A Christmas Tree for Lydia is a short story by Elizabeth Enright that I found in a little Scholastic paperback called Ten Tales of Christmas. The paperback anthology is still available and not too expensive; it’s worth buying for that story alone. The story also appeared earlier as a picture book (see photo at left), but that one will now set you back $50.00 or more. You could ask your local librarian to track it down in either version, or check the Short Story Index to see if it’s anthologized elsewhere.
The story is set in New York City shortly after World War II, where a young war widow is struggling to raise two children – an elementary-age boy and Lydia, a preschooler. The theme is not an uncommon one for Christmas tales – love and ingenuity overcome poverty to make Christmas happen. It’s one of my favorites, and I hope you will be able to find a copy.Both the story and the song today are ones you may have to buy, unless you can find them at the library. The Tree is by Jim Henry, a folk singer/songwriter from Western Massachusetts. It appears on the CD Wonderland: A Winter’s Solstice Celebration, and as best I can tell, some of the royalties on this album still go to the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts. The CD is still one of my favorites several years after I bought it; it holds a great mix of music, from Bach to You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch, and several original songs, all performed by local artists. Henry’s song is full of childhood memories of the Christmas tree and how big it seemed, and how “it won’t be Christmas till we’ve got the tree.” By the way, if you get hold of the CD and can play music, here are the chords and lyrics to The Tree.