Thursday, December 1, 2011

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories/Auntie Knickers’ Advent Storytime: December 1

Today’s writing prompt for the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories is the Christmas Tree. Now, I think I said just about everything I can recall about our Christmas trees last year, on December 2. So rather than repost, I’ll just send you there.
We have two Christmas trees at our house this year. One is the traditional balsam fir balsam and the other, as best we can determine, is a hemlock (more on this anon.) hemlock
Sisterfilms has just unformed us that what she’d really like is a Scotch or
scotch pine
Norway pine with long needles. norway pine
Perhaps next year our woods can at least provide a white pine.
white pine
For tonight’s story, I had several Christmas tree stories to choose from; I picked one of the oldest, The Peterkins’ Christmas Tree by Lucretia P. Hale. Here’s the book it comes from – one of the Junior Deluxe Editions I used to get in the mail. I’ve had this book for about 55 years!
peterkin papers
Lucretia Peabody Hale came from old Boston stock, and literary stock at that. Her father, Nathan Hale (named for his famous Revolutionary uncle) was an editor, and her mother an author. One of her many siblings was Edward Everett Hale, author of The Man without a Country, which I remember being assigned to read in junior high. And on her mother’s side, Lucretia could count as a relative the orator Edward Everett, now famous chiefly for being the “main” and lengthy speaker on the occasion when Lincoln gave his Gettysburg Address.
Lucretia, who was born in 1820 and died in 1900, saw the introduction of the Christmas tree into New England. In Germany, Austria, and Scandinavia, Christmas trees were a long tradition by the 19th century, when Ernst Anschutz wrote some new words to an old tune, O Tannenbaum. I’ve selected a version by the Wiener Sängerknaben (The Vienna Boys’ Choir). Although Tannenbaum means “Fir Tree,” this is where we get back to our hemlock, for Maine’s own Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, apparently in the throes of unrequited love, wrote a non-Christmas poem, The Hemlock Tree, which is obviously meant to be sung to the Tannenbaum melody.

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