Christmas: Pray, Love, Remember

The Christmas tree goes up on December 1. I love it.

~ Richard E. Grant

There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance; pray, love, remember; and there is pansies, that’s for thoughts;  . . . there’s rue for you, and here’s some for me. . . . O, you must wear your rue with a difference.

~ William Shakespeare, Hamlet 



The Davis tree went up on December 2. I love it.

I always shoot for early December, but I’m calendar-challenged; some years, Christmas arrives almost before the tree.

This time, David said if I didn’t have the gumption to get up out of my chair and into the car, he would choose a tree himself. Not in so many words, of course, but the subtext was unmistakable.

Christmas trees have always been problematic. When we were first married, we had a tree tree. Six-month-old Chloe walked it like a spiral staircase and perched among the branches. We had to close her up in the bedroom so we could decorate. In fact, we had to close her up in the bedroom so we could get it into the stand.

She left off climbing—I don’t know why, certainly not because I told her to—but for the rest of the season, she and Christabel lay on the bunched up sheet (snow) beneath. They were picturesque. Then we discovered them eating needles.

We took the hint (potential surgery) and responded with an artificial tree with lights already installed and an electrical cord for easy twinkling. On a dining room chair, and after only one blip, it attracted minimal attention. Ernest did not chew the cord.

This year David had a brainstorm: Put the tree atop the china closet.

So we went next door to Home Depot, passed up fir, and brought home a small rosemary tree. Nontraditional, but that’s us. One of our most repeated sentences is, “I wonder how normal people do this.”

We also bought a string of 100 lights, some of which now hang down the side of the china cabinet. They add to the the quirky charm. Unless Ernest notices, chews the cord, gets 110 volts, and must again be rushed to the ER.

We found snow (a length of fabric from the Walmart sewing aisle) to keep the pot from scratching the wood where we would never see scratches, but still. Folded, it doesn’t look too bad, and it was cheaper than a lovely felt tree skirt. I think our old sheet-snow was lost in the move.

I insisted on some tiny ornaments. David said there wasn’t room. There wasn’t.

Back at home, I googled rosemary and learned it’s not toxic to cats, and that due to the strong odor, they probably won’t eat it, and, if they, do, they’ll stop at one bite. But the insecticide is toxic. Jolly. If eaten, rosemary can cause gastric distress. The label says the plant should be watered weekly; I’ll be sure to do that, since I don’t want any dropped leaves. We’ve had enough gastric distress to last well into 2020.

The label also says the tree needs natural light, which it ain’t going to get in its current location. David says not much light penetrates our window screens, anyway, so it’ll have to make do with lamps. I might put it outside for a few hours each day. No one is likely to walk off with it.

With any luck, it will last till Epiphany.

So there we have it: Rosemary for remembrance—and we will remember; and a prayer that, although we display our tree with a difference, David and I will get those cats through Christmas without our having to wear rue.

Shakespeare has a line for everything if you’re willing to think hard enough. That’s where the pansies come in.



Day 15: Rue

When I began my WIP, the protagonist’s name was Rue. I chose it because I liked it and because it was a bit out of the ordinary. Not as original, perhaps, as Scarlett, Scout, Sherlock, or Heathcliff–but a name readers might remember.

About the second paragraph, trouble arose. Rue gave in to melancholy.

She worried.

She sighed.

She moped.

She moaned.

She lamented, repented, and repined.

Everything she said required employment of a semicolon.

If I hadn’t kept an eye on her, she’d have donated her tee-shirt and cutoffs to Goodwill and donned sackcloth and ashes.

After conspiring in her misery for several chapters, I finally stepped back and asked why the woman so lively and vivacious in my imagination had fallen into despair the moment she hit the page.

She told me, in no uncertain terms, that the problem was all mine. I’d been reading too much. Every time I wrote her name, I thought of poor, mad Ophelia, passing out wildflowers before floating down the stream to her death.

There’s fennel for you,and columbines:
There’s rue for you; and here’s some for me:…
O you must wear your rue with a difference.

And the poor Shropshire Lad, remembering.

With rue my heart is laden
For golden friends I had,
For many a rose-lipt maiden
And many a light-foot lad.

By brooks too broad for leaping
The light-foot boys are laid;
The rose-lipt maids are sleeping
In fields where roses fade.

I had named her Rue, after the flower symbolizing regret. How could I expect her to be lighthearted?

She was right.

So I renamed her Molly, and she’s been a live wire ever since.


William Shakespeare, Hamlet, IV.v, @

A. E. Housman, ‘”With rue my heart is laden,” @