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Article ID: 8832
Age Group: Adult
Posted: December 25th. 2004
A New Yule Tradition
by Oracle DancingGoat/ Shelly O'Brien
Yule is a time for spending time with family and friends. It is a time to look back on our lives and then look forward to our futures. For most of us this is a delightful time full of fun and joy.
However, those who have the most fun and deep emotional attachment to Yule-time are our children.
My children have been looking forward to this season all year long. My oldest daughter is six and to her this stuff of Yule is old hat; she has the traditions down pat. But for my youngest children, this year is the first time that they will truly participate. My youngest children are identical twin girls who will be three on January sixth. So some minor changes to our usual traditions and holiday preparations had to be made this year.
The week before American Thanksgiving my oldest daughter began to ask when we would be getting our Yule tree. At the time I said the fifteenth of December. This meant very little to her and she continued to repeat the question, although the frequency had dropped to about twice a day instead of five or six.
We usually purchase our tree from a local grower who sells the more natural-looking trees, which the mass majority of people do not want, for a lesser price and they call them "Charlie Browns." It is not the price that has appealed to my husband and me, but the fact that they are natural-looking trees and they are outcasts. So on the fifteenth of any given December you will find us all piling into our family car for the forty-minute drive to this locally grown tree farm. We always wait until my husband comes home from work. We go together when it is dark because somehow it is a more spiritual experience for us. When we arrive we file into the tree areas with the rest of the happy tree hunters but as soon as we turn into the "Charlie Brown" area we are alone. Muffled sounds and happy laughter filter in to us but mostly you can hear the silence. Snow falls quietly on the trees, which are propped on a fence or just resting on the ground instead of being proudly staked to a metal rod. This gives us a chance to actually pick up and hold the trees. They seem rather embarrassed by their poor form; they should be staked up so we only have to look at them as we walk around them.
The kids ultimately choose the tree now. We pick them up one by one and see what they look like. Lots of times we turn the chosen tree around to see if it is fuller on one side. We find that this is true most of the time; it is the same or thinner towards the back.
My husband and I, before we had the kids, got to choose. We actually used to split up and try to find the loneliest, and usually cheapest, tree sight-unseen as fast as we could. It was a game that we miss but as soon as the kids are old enough to read a price tag we can start that tradition again. Now this is just the beginning. We now take our tree to be wrapped by the string baler. The guys who work this area are young men who are usually new to the tree farm. Upon seeing our tree they say all kinds of funny things. Usually things like, "There will be more string than tree," or, "Do you think you need bailing?" We all have a good laugh over it. Inside the family owners know us now. They take our lesser ticket and smile; each one of our children always gets a candy cane, too.
Now before the twins we used to just put the tree in the car; yep, there was always room for it even though we were a little cramped. With the twins we now rope it on top of the minivan. This makes our oldest happy as we are finally taking the tree home the right way.
So back to this Yule. In whatever manner, we lovingly choose a natural outcast and celebrate it as our beloved Yule tree. We have always purchased our outcast on December fifteenth as it is a real tree and we wanted to keep it fresh; too early purchased it becomes a dry fire hazard by the time Solar New Year rolls around.
With my oldest's constant pleas and the chorus of her twin sisters as to when this purchase would take place, my husband sat down with me to have a sobering talk.
The oldest of our twins (by mere seconds) is a real terror. She is the biggest daredevil that has been produced in a three-county area. My husband brought this up and stressed the water and electrical components of a real tree. Unhappy visions of tree lights in her mouth and wrapped all around her as she happily played in the water at the base soaked to her knees came dancing through my head. To be honest this was my husband's vision, which he kindly shared with me. So we, to my dismay, decided that an artificial tree would be safer this year.
The decision made, I quickly proclaimed that we would be getting the tree that very day. My oldest, like a shot, went to the closet and started to get out snow gear. Snow pants and mittens rained behind her as she grabbed and threw them while leaning headfirst into the closet and digging like a gopher. I stopped the frenzied digging and announced that I would be back in a few minutes with an artificial tree. Odd looks came from my oldest, cheers of delight from my youngest two.
I returned about an hour later with a long box and a plastic grocery bag.
While I was out my husband had gotten out our many boxes of Yule decorations. I looked at the ones marked "lights" and "decorations" and told him that we would not be needing them. He looked at me strangely but shrugged his shoulders and took them back to storage.
Together as a family we put the tree up. It is the kind with the lights attached so lights coming off the tree was no longer an issue. When we were done and a bright red bed sheet (instead of our traditional hand-made tree skirt) was in place around the bottom, we stood back to admire our work.
"What are we going to decorate it with?" my husband asked with a look on his face that said, "You really aren't going to leave it bare are you?" At this point I brought out the bag I had brought in with the tree. Inside were thick multicolored construction paper, glue, glitter and brand new crayons. Everyone smiled.
So we spent our afternoon making ornaments shaped like Santa, reindeer, sleighs, bells, holly and oak leaves covered in crayon drawings and shining with glitter. We all made a long chain in a rainbow of colors that we draped on the tree. Lastly my oldest daughter had the wonderful idea to make a paper scene that would rest under the tree. She made the Goddess riding in a sleigh drawn by four brightly colored and sparkling horses. When we were done the three children took the rest of the glitter and sprinkled it under the tree on the bright red makeshift tree skirt. It was a beautiful and magickal site.
What started as a dreadful thought, using an artificial tree, turned into the best Yule decorating project that we have ever had in our home. It really is the children who make the holidays special, beautiful and full of wonder. Next year as we return to our tradition of getting a real outcast Charlie Brown tree, the box that is marked "Decorations" will again be staying in storage. For our family, a new Yule tradition has been born.
Bio: An Initiated Witch since 1987. Celtic Reconstructionist. Founder of the Wiccan Church of Caldera 1990. Ordained ULC Minister. High Priestess and co-founder of Pagan Church of the Sacred Pentacle. Co-founder of Pagan's Food Cupboard of Ontario County. Assistant Local Coordinator and Media Director of Fingerlakes Pagan Pride. Media Director Pagan Educational Network of New York.
Shelly has been a Pagan community leader, spiritual counselor, and Pagan advocate in the media and her community since 1989. Shelly is dedicated to positive public awareness of our Pagan community. Shelly lives with her husband and three daughters in Canandaigua, New York.
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Oracle DancingGoat/ Shelly O'Brien
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