When I was a wee lad in southern Michigan Christmas went like this. The sunday before Christmas we'd all pile into the family wagon and head on out to the country ( like Dowagiac was a major city! ) to a tree farm or whatever. A few years we got a tree from the woods behind Grandma's house. With a bit of sawing and struggle the appointed evergreen was lashed to the roof and we were homeward bound. Once there the tree would be stuck in a stand and sit there, naked and unadorned for days. Come Christmas Eve, we children would shuffle off to bed, the stark and barren conifer still holding its silent vigil over the manger scene, the poinsettias and such. But Christmas morning was glorius magic of the first degree. No longer just drab and dreary, the tree would be blazing abright with vibrant lights, glistening tinsel and all sort of festive decorations. A most remarkable transformation, awe and wonder in the eyes of us children. And of course, all the gifts of the season beneath its festive boughs. A splendid sight indeed. The tree in all of its glistening glory would stand proud for the Twelve Days of Christmas, the time between Christmas itself and January 6th, the day marking the visit of the Magi, the three wise kings, coming to pay their respects to the Christ child. It saddens me to see trees rudely abandoned on the curb a mere day or two after Christmas. For those of you who follow other paths, please bear with my ramblings of childhood traditions and accept my wishes for a happy, fruitful year to come. mjb.