The Christmas Tree

More than once over the years a retired elementary teacher friend has told me the story of her team teacher colleague, Ron, and his Christmas tree.  This year she gave me a photo copy of the tree as of December 2023.  To me, the photo is worth more than the usual “thousand words”….

Here is the entire story: “In 1985 my teaching partner Ron was told he had bone cancer, and he would not be alive for Christmas. So. he bought an artificial tree. He and the tree are still up.

Any extra words are superfluous.  The diagnosis was dire, about 38 years ago.  Life goes on.

I’m told this photo is of the exact same tree as 38 years ago.  The tree has seen better days, but every day it is there, a reminder of a time without hope for its owner.


Christmas trees or variations on them are a part of the tradition of this season for many of us, as the old years ends, and a new year beckons.

Ron’s tree prompts a suggestion:

Rather than focusing on the hopeless – easy to do in this troubled time – spend a few moments thinking of one happening in the past year which was memorable in a positive way.  Something you’re grateful happened in your own life:  ONE thing in 2023.  Some other year?  More than one?  Can’t think of anything?  Fine.  Just give it a thought.

(No need to share.)

All best wishes for a good New Year in 2024.

Thank you, Kathy.


Midweek daughter Heather and I went to the new movie, Wonka.  It was Heather’s choice.  I found it a most positive film – one of those children’s film made for adults.  There are lots of reviews.  Check it out.  Wonka Movie Reviews.

Motivation for this post comes from a long ago poem I first read in “The Best Loved Poems of the American People”: Loom of Time, selected by Hazel Felleman.  I saw the poem when I purchased the 1936 book i n 1961.   I still have it.  I include with the poem the introduction to the original.  The book is still available, here.


from SAK:  Touching that Christmas tree story & although I am pretty damn pessimistic looking at what’s happening here & there I liked your: “ spend a few moments thinking of one happening in the past year which was memorable in a positive way.  Something you’re grateful happened in your own life:  ONE thing in 2023.”

I also liked Peter’s update [comment below] of Spike Milligan. Some give up on drink, some on cursing . . . Spike completely gave up on the past year.

Wishing you & yours a healthy & glorious 2024 – it’s gonna be exciting anyhow!

from Arthur: Excellent post! Happy new year!

from Claude:  Thanks, Dick. I’m hoping you have a great 2024, a year that promises to be fascinating!  Thanks for all you do.

from Chuck: responding to an editorial in The Washington Post on Dec. 22 2023:

Regarding the Dec. 22 editorial, “How the battle for democracy will be fought — and won”:

The Editorial Board must look beyond the box in defeating authoritarian advantages in framing democracy as dysfunctional. Democracies are dysfunctional. They can’t react instantly with a workable solution. And if they do, it’s only momentary in stopping the problem. Independent nations with independent agencies cannot quickly stop globally interdependent challenges. Authoritarians can act quickly and forcefully. Then they can quickly adjust if they fear a citizen revolt, making them appear strong and wise.

Democracies’ lag times at best yield only reactionary solutions. Combined with citizens’ unrealistic expectations for best results, problems are unlikely to be solved. Quick and effective responses to pandemics, immigration flows, violent extremists, destructive weather patterns or economic pain caused by interdependent global influences are not going to come from either form of government. Neither can deliver what’s actually needed: addressing root causes. This would require international cooperation and coordination on a level unseen since the global eradication of smallpox or hosting the Olympics.

Democracies moving in this sensible direction would require a majority of wise and patient voters insisting on it. Freedom certainly matters to them! But protecting a nation’s freedoms requires wisdom, responsibility, accountability and a democratic majority of virtuous voters. An authoritarian leader needs only patience and to placate citizens. Both systems of government can expect a rougher future.

Chuck WooleryRockville

The writer is a former chair of the United Nations Association Council of Organizations.


1 reply
  1. Peter Barus
    Peter Barus says:

    Dear old friend,
    My New Yeer’s Resolution (with a nod to Spike Mulligan): I’m giving up 2023 completely.
    I love your postings (lo these many years!), and wish you and your family and friends a year and a life of love and possibility.


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