O Tannenbaum, Revived!

When contemplating this month’s blog post I re-read a few of my past December offerings and decided this evergreen one, originally published on December 19, 2019,  deserved a reprint.  The ongoing pandemic has, of course, forced some changes in how we celebrate the holidays. In 2020 we discovered that concerts via video stream can be quite satisfying. This year, pre-gathering covid tests will be a new ritual. But at its essence, the holiday season remains a community celebration of love and hope. I’m beaming out to the readers of this blog my best wishes for a joyous holiday season.


Our neighborhood is especially bright with holiday lights this year, a reflection, perhaps, of a shared yearning to lessen the darkness in our world.

Before the recent snow, we strung some white lights around the yard, but it was far too early to hang the garland around the front door.  Now I’m hoping it’s not too late, because the greenery around the entry makes the house look so festive. We’ve done the ladder-on-ice thing once or twice in the past, but we’re getting smarter as we age, so here’s to a couple of warmish days ahead.

This weekend we’ll get our tree. The ritual around that has changed as well. Up to and including the year I had knee surgery in early December, we cut our own at a tree farm a few miles west of our home. I say “we,” but that year I ventured out into the field and picked out an absolutely perfect tree (I was walking okay by then, albeit with a cruch) but Diane had to kneel on the frozen ground and cut it (the doctor would have frowned on me doing that).

She also had to drag it back to the car, which turned out to be a fair distance away. She was a good sport about it, but let’s just say I was convinced by the following December that there were easier ways to proceed, and since then we’ve bought a tree at a local nursery. They have a nice selection. The helpful staff gives the stump a fresh cut. They tie it on the roof of the car. It costs a little more, but aching knees have their own price, so off to the tree store we will go.

That night or the next, we’ll haul the lights, garlands and ornament boxes up from the basement and transform the tree into the most beautiful one ever.

Here are some of the ornaments we will hang:

A Claddagh, the Irish symbol of love, loyalty and friendship.

A precious, retro ornament from Diane’s childhood.

We love bird ornaments. Here, a snowy owl visits with a goldfinch, while another owl spies from the background.

Oh, Canada! We were married there nearly 15 years ago, so this one always has a place of honor on our tree.

Many readers of this blog have one of these, am I right?

A very fancy bird, indeed.

But of course.

I wish you happiness this season, whatever holidays you may celebrate, and a joyous, peaceful, wonderful new year.

To the readers of this blog: What are your favorite holiday traditions? Please let us know in the comments.

Brenda Buchanan is the author of the Joe Gale Mystery Series, featuring a diehard Maine newspaper reporter who covers the crime and courts beat. Three books—QUICK PIVOT, COVER STORY and TRUTH BEAT—are available everywhere e-books are sold. She is writing a new series that has as its protagonist a Portland criminal defense lawyer willing to take on cases others won’t touch in a town to which she swore she would never return.


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14 Responses to O Tannenbaum, Revived!

  1. Anonymous says:

    We give a very large holiday party in early December for neighbors and friends. Lots of great food and big bowls of margaritas. There is a magic to the moment when the front door opens and smiling people arrive bringing food and wine and gather in our candle-lit rooms, eager to catch up on the year. People ask how long we’ve been giving the party, but no one can remember. More than thirty years, for sure. The warmth of that night colors the rest of the season.


    • Your holiday party sounds wonderful – something people don’t take the time to do as much anymore. I’m sure your friends and neighbors look forward to it and love the way you express its meaning: the warmth of that night colors the rest of the season. Beautiful!

  2. Crystal Lyn Toller says:

    My son and I always go to the live nativity at a berry farm the first weekend in December. This year we have moved about 30 minutes away but still went. It is a Christmas Tradition for us. We have gone every year since he was an infant except once when it rained us out. He loves it because they have hot chocolate and homemade cookies. This year the hot chocolate was especially nice for me after we watched it because the wind was cold out there. One year it was snowing and that was so nice to watch it in the snow.

    • Brenda Buchanan says:

      Crystal, that sounds so special. Being outdoors with your family for a live nativity play, sometimes in a soft snowfall. Where is the berry farm? Happy holidays to you!

  3. David Plimpton says:

    Thank you, Brenda, for this Holiday post and the wonderful photos.

    This Holiday tradition is one I’ve been included in by virtue of membership in my wife’s Italian family – a Christmas Eve seafood feast, with Italian confections for dessert, like pizzelles, a wonderful, feather-weight, anise-flavored cookie.

    This is a family, and I say this with love, that you can get into easily (all are welcome), but you can never get out!

  4. Brenda Buchanan says:

    The Italians know how to celebrate, don’t they? I can picture the convivial table holding scrumptious food, some of which you only have on Christmas Eve. Perfect! Happy holidays to you and Mary.

  5. Brenda, That was GREAT. Gave me even more incentive to gather up folks who may be “floating free” this year and bring them in for good food and cheer. And I LOVED the owl ornament. Thank you so very much!

  6. maggierobinsonwriter says:

    I have two typewriters on my tree. I was supposed to give one of them away but I couldn’t part with it, LOL. With our kids grown, it’s become more complicated to get everyone together, but we pick a random date and have one huge “cocktail party” with lots of snacks and a Yankee Swap. Have a wonderful holiday!

    • Brenda Buchanan says:

      I do cherish my typewriter ornaments.

      My family (at least before the pandemic) did a similar thing as what you describe – picked a day in December and got together for a big holiday party. There are too many of us in the extended family to do it any other way and stay sane!

  7. Kay Garrett says:

    Our traditions have greatly changed over the years. It’s now just hubby and I, so most of our traditions are sweet memories. Age and medical issues make a lot of the things we use to do all but impossible. However, we still try to carry on one my Mom started back with I was a little child. Hubby and I both love to bake. We makes up lots of goodies from fried pies to candy. Then we fix up goodie boxes to be delivered to loved ones, friends, special people, seniors, shut-in and those that just need a little lift. There’s no just dropping them off either. Like Mom use to say, your time is the most valuable gift you can give. It can’t be bought and once it passes nothing will bring it back. For some, the time you gift them is more cherished than what satisfies the sweet tooth. It’s a tradition that we both love doing and it brings back such sweet memories to me of helping Mom with the baking and then the deliveries.
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

    • Brenda Buchanan says:

      Hi Kay,

      That is such a wonderful tradition. We usually bake either cookies or cranberry orange bread for our nearest neighbors. I like your idea of bringing them to people who are alone or in need of a boost. That is the kindest possible way to channel the holiday spirit.

      Best to you,


  8. jselbo says:

    I, too, covet the typewriter ornament. Our holiday decorations are all in storage in Pasadena CA and our daughter has now claimed ownership of them – holiday train and all. Hope her dog and cat don’t freak out too much. So we are starting “fresh” here in Portland. Hoping for a white Holiday, with cranberry red cocktails and duck a l’orange – and finishing my book!

    • Brenda Buchanan says:

      Love the menu, Jule! I hope your fresh start is fun. In addition to typewriters (I have two) and Red Sox world champs ornaments (I have 4!) our tree has many, many birds, as you can see from the photos.

      Happy holidays to you!


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