By Vladimir Brezina
At this season, there are Christmas trees everywhere you look in the city, in stores, banks, apartment building lobbies. Most are only superficially decorated, standing under bright lights which reveal all there is to see at one glance, mere abstractions of the idea of the Christmas tree…
To me, a proper Christmas tree should be large, dark, mysterious, and excessive, full of possibilities. No doubt this is some Proustian attempt to recapture the Christmas trees of my childhood. I remember that Christmas trees were so much bigger then, with spreading branches that allowed glimpses into the dark interior where all kinds of ornaments glinted in the soft candlelight. (Many of the ornaments were wrapped candies that I hunted for in the days after Christmas…)
So, now that I have to be my own Santa Claus, a few rules: No artificial trees—it has to be a fragrant, real tree. As large as possible. Richly decorated. And above all, lit not by artificial Christmas lights, but by the unique, unmistakable glow of real candles!
In bright light, the tree looks pretty enough… but somehow still awaiting its true moment.
Candlelight works its magic. The whole tree glows with a soft radiance. The light picks out the glitter of ornaments from the pools of darkness deep among the branches. The candles burn silently, yet flicker perceptibly from moment to moment. The rising air sets strands of tinsel subtly in motion, shimmering in the light. The tree is alive.