Christmas 2020

Now-a-days and especially at this time of Christmas, many people will be forwarding their Christmas wishes via email. Many ecards can be used for personal birthday wishes or greetings.

My neighbour sent me a Christmas ecard greeting the other day via email with a Jacquie card attached.

It’s the type that you click on and then it opens and plays an animated scene with a song. They are actually cute and very colourful. Some ecards are free, others will cost.

The ecard I received was a card featuring a lovely Christmas tree that made the decorated balls light up as the song progressed and came to the end by lighting the star on the top of the tree. Lovely.

The song of course was: O Tannen baum, O Tannen baum. “O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree, How are thy leaves so verdant! Not only in the summertime, But even in winter is thy prime”.etc. etc.

It reminded me of a time in the late 40s when I was just a lad, the home of my next door friend always had a Christmas tree. Not just an artificial one but a real tree with wonderful animal decorations, dwarfs, angels and balls hanging from every branch. And believe it or not, they would have real candles mounted in the tree. They would turn off the house lights, strike a match to light them and then sing the ‘O Tannen baum’ song. It had a catchy tune and so I remembered it easily.

It was a special moment, as our voices blended together, the atmosphere and the burning candles was very lovely and cozy. It all sounded like singing a hymn.

However my friend’s father kept a sharp eye on the burning candles and just in case had placed a pail of water near the tree.

So after the song was sung the candles were again extinguished till the next day. It was magic.

I remember coming home and singing the ‘O Tannenbaum’ song. My dad when he heard it said: ‘Where did you hear that’. I said: ‘at the neighbour’s, they have a lovely decorated Christmas tree and when they light the candles, they stand around it and sing this song’. So I started again, but he cut me off and said: ‘Don’t sing it anymore. Don’t you know that is idolatry, worshipping a tree. Well, our fore-fathers when they were heathens before they were converted to the Gospel by Saint Boniface, also worshipped (Oak) trees. Christmas is for celebrating God’s coming into the world and away with this idolatry. In fact, when Saint Boniface brought the gospel to the Frisians and the Batavian tribes, he himself, chopped down the trees they worshipped. Don’t you start again.’

Then as an afterthought he said: ’O yes, and telling the Gospel message cost him his life’.**

Wow, what a lesson. How do we rate today. Celebrating the real Christmas yet?

Later checking with Wikipedia, I noticed that the information on the ‘Tannenbaum’ showed a version of the song that had been Christianized with a fourth stanza:

‘O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree, How sturdy God hath made thee! Thou bidd’st us all place faithfully, Our trust in God, unchangingly! O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree, How sturdy God hath made thee!’

Well, you never know!