The tree

IMGP8244Yesterday Carlos and I went out to buy a Christmas tree. We did it because it was 8th December which is, he tells me, the traditional day for tree buying in Argentina. Apparently the 8th has special religious significance, and that is why. I’m afraid that my knowledge of possible religious significance is non existent and so I can’t explain further, but no matter. For my Argentine, the date was traditional and so we headed out to choose our tree.

Back in the English countryside, choosing a tree might have involved wrapping up warmly against the winter chill, going to the market or the local farm shop and finding a real pine, the right height for the house: five feet tall, six feet tall… Carlos and me walked down a warm Avenida Santa Fe, until we found a small shop, of the sort that calls itself a ‘bazaar’ and which normally sells bits and pieces for the kitchen, the bathroom, tacky-ish gifts… I love these little places here, they are full of cheap treasures: a new ‘bombilla’ for the mate, a can opener, a bath mat. Whatever you need, they usually have it. And now because it is December, they have Christmas trees.

Most of the trees were green, though a few were white, and they ranged in height from 6 inches to 6 feet. How were we going to find the perfect fit for our one room palace? I started off touching trees that came up to my chest, my mind still back in my Christmases past. Carlos meanwhile, was picking up the tiniest trees already covered in red bows, and saying, ‘Que lindo.’ I stopped touching the taller trees. Instead I picked up a little green one, its branches still naked. It was about 12 inches tall. ‘How about this?’ I asked gently. ‘We could choose some things (not being sure of the word for decorations) to put on it.’ We were both delighted with that idea. ‘Que lindo,’  he said again.

Carlos proudly held the tree by its rustic wooden base and we moved towards the baskets of ‘things’. We became children all over again as we selected the lucky trinkets to whom our tree would become home: a Father Christmas with mad blue eyes (‘Like yours,’ Carlos informed me, laughing); two ‘sister’ angels, one silver and one gold (lots in the basket had lost their heads, but we searched deep); another ‘Papa Noél’, this one smaller than the nail on my little finger, sleeping inside a glass star; a white dove with real feathers (seen just as we were leaving and hastily exchanged for an unwanted pinecone); five mirrored glitter balls (because they reminded us of the larger varieties in the Buenos Aires tango salons); a branch of silver leaves and baubles (half the size of the tree and chosen by Carlos when my back was turned); and last but not least, a delicately sculpted glass angel with gold trim.  The whole lot plus 100 pin head lights on a 3.5 metre cord came to $51.50 pesos (£8). We ducked out of the shop, through the skillfully crafted Christmas arch erected in the doorway, and walked home fast, clutching our treasures to our chests, excited to bring our first Christmas to life.

Back home he carefully wound the lights around the tree’s branches and we talked of a way to clothe it. This is what we did. We took turns to select a decoration from our little haul, and as we placed it on the tree, we dedicated each one: the branch for my family in England; the glass angel for his father; the dove for my oldest friend Debbie; the mad-eyed Santa for his children far away; an angel  for Mr Tee in Cambodia, and for all the people in the world who have less than we do; the other angel for our many ‘tangueros’ and ‘tangueras’ who have been here and gone again; the sleeping Santa for his family in Buenos Aires; the baubles for all the partners and friends we have ever had who have helped make us the people who we are today.

IMGP8247Finally we turned on the lights. Carlos told me to look carefully. At the very top, one light flashed on and off inside the glass angel: ‘Palpita su corazón,’  he said.

Later we lay in the darkness and watched the lights come and go. ‘El mas lindo en el mundo,’ I said. And I meant it. There is no doubt that many larger trees have come and gone in my life, but this one, the tiniest, I do not think I will ever forget.


4 Responses

  1. Thank you Sal.
    Your words – all of them – help me to understand my tango, my life. I too feel the unhappiness with life; change needs to happen but not quite yet. I think I need to make a few more wrong turns, and feel unhappiness more acutely, before I am ready to do something.
    I stumbled across Tango while searching for salsa-the salsa didn’t stand a chance in the face of TANGO. It challenged me, I wanted it, it fought with me, I rejected it, it pursued me, I relinquished, it seduced me, I surrendered. This process took a long time, and you met me not so long after I had surrendered. This time of year helps to highlight the turing point because of that great birthday dance that I had last year. My point being that I am quite sure Tango will lead me to where I need to be, just like it has lead you. Its lovely to know about the christmas tree going up on 8th December, because I have always done the Christmas tree on this day as a birthday treat!!
    Again, many, many thanks for your words and apologies for the rather long post! 🙂

  2. Charlotte,
    Happy Birthday! I remember your birthday dance last year, indeed it prompted me to speak to you for the first time because you looked so beautiful when you danced…

    I am happy that my writing helps you to understand something of your own situation. More than happy. Tango has led me somewhere that I would never ever imagined. Whether I would have discovered tango if my life hadn’t caved in, whether I would have left a ‘comfortable’ life behind to follow my heart, I cannot know. In the end the universe did not wait for me to do something myself, it threw me a whole set of circumstances that forced my hand. Which ever path I chose it would have been a new one, so I just chose the most adventurous route because by then, I had nothing to lose.

    I do think though that the universe waited until I was ready and it gave me exactly what I needed. It gave me a chance to live a new way, and I am just glad that I faced my fears and took that chance.

    I am certain that if you listen to your heart, your future will reveal itself to you in time.


  3. December 8th is El Día de Virgen, They celebrate virgins here cause there ain´t too many left over the age of…..just kidding, but it is the day of the virgin, that is Mary.

  4. Ah Miss Tango, ta for that pearl of wisdom! SC

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