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Friday, December 24, 2010

Holly Revisited

Last year, at the end of December, I took you to visit my favorite holly grove.  It is my favorite because this particular group of hollies started almost the same year that I moved here to Mountaintop Acres.  
That day there was no snow, Christmas 2009 was drifting back behind me and there was time to sit and contemplate the past.
       Today is Christmas Eve. Like most of us, I have been without the luxury of surplus time. There have been several mornings without an extra moment to spend outside observing woodland life.  Most observances have been through the windshield of my car the view as I pass through electronic doors into grocery stores and malls.
       This morning was no different except that I took that hour between seven and eight o'clock, took hold of each end in my left and right hands, braced myself and pulled with all my might.  Using my foot as a wedge, I finally pried the hour apart and placed about a half hour right in the middle. Quickly, before the pressure could close the gap, I grabbed my coat and camera and headed out behind the barn. 
I saw the hollies, standing green against a mostly gray woods and remembered that afternoon last December. Sanctuary of Holly The tree on which I sat is still there though rotting closer to the ground. The hollies continue to grow. 
Today, when I see them, I think of Christmas which is tomorrow. (uh oh, the pressure is starting to build.) Ever since Europeans became Christian, holly and Christmas have gone together.  Without realizing it, I begin to sing The First Tree in the Greenwood. The title is also the last line of each verse and the only line of the song that I actually know.  That is not so bad, except that I began singing it the way waiters in The Christmas Story would have sung it. If you haven't seen the movie, then you probably haven't turned on your television on Christmas day in several years, for on some stations it runs all day looping from beginning to end over and over.  If you have seen it, then you must remember the scene in the Chinese restaurant to which the family goes once their turkey is eaten by a pack of neighborhood hounds. The waiters serenade our woebegone family by singing Christmas Carols.  The only problem is that the singers cannot say "l"s the way Americans do and "holly" comes out "har-ry." So now you may hear with me,  "And the first tree in the greenwood, it was the Har-ry." 
Yes, tomorrow is Christmas, Before anyone else gets up I'll go out into the woods to celebrate with the trees, leaves and whatever animals and birds chance to accompany me.
For now, though, I realize that the hour has closed in around me.  I need to go back inside, punch down my bread for its last rising and finish wrapping presents.  
But I am different than I was an hour ago.  Now a have an image imprinted on me that will last throughout the day. an image of red berries amid prickly green leaves.
Merry Christmas to you all, no matter where you are and no matter how your see and name God.

Now the holly bears a berry as white as the milk,
And Mary bore Jesus, who was wrapped up in silk:
And Mary bore Jesus Christ,
Our Saviour to be,
And the first tree in the greenwood, it was the holly.
Now the holly bears a berry as green as the grass,


And Mary bore Jesus, who died on the cross:
And Mary bore Jesus Christ,
Our Saviour to be,
And the first tree in the greenwood, it was the holly.



Now the holly bears a berry as black as the coal,
And Mary bore Jesus who died for us all:
And Mary bore Jesus Christ,
Our Saviour to be,
And the first tree in the greenwood, it was the holly.

Now the holly bears a berry, as blood is it red,


Then trust we our Saviour, who rose from the dead:
And Mary bore Jesus Christ,
Our Saviour to be,
And the first tree in the greenwood, it was the holly.

    Anonymous


   




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