I put an ornament on it now and then as I walk by. I should be done by Christmas Eve, and it will be fine for the 12 days of Christmas after which I will remove an ornament now and then as I walk by, hopefully undone by Chinese New Year. But tonight, something special. A dear departing co-worker passed his farewell ginger-ti lei to me (he was allergic to it) so I strung it on the tree like a garland of snow. The combined fragrance notes of white ginger and fir are quite intriguing. And real, not something concocted in a perfume laboratory. Yes, that is a gecko in a Santa hat peeking out from the branches.
Earlier, I had thrown a nut/shell/ti leaf lei into a fall/Thanksgiving arrangement that seemed aesthetically pleasing, if not completely traditional.
The custom of lei-giving in Hawaii is something really special. I wore a lei presented to the Wizard a few days ago, a beautiful complex green and purple orchid thing, here a little wilted, but when it was fresh, I dressed to the lei: green pants, a burgundy top. Everyone commented on it.
"Is it your birthday?"
"No, that was last week."
"Well, I love it when folks wear lei for no particular reason."
Which made me think of a comment I made to a blog-o-pal about the curious integration of pagan traditions like Santa (the Wild Man) and amanita mushrooms and bunny rabbits and chicks with the Christian icons of the creche and crucifix. Like language, our traditions evolve and conflate, to the point where no one really knows what anything really means. But they are all quite delicious, hinting at secrets of love and lust and spiritual longing, expressed in these tangible ways. Very natural things, flowers and fecund rabbits point to immortality, the promise (fulfilled or not) of spiritual aspiration.