The Wishmas Tree
For years now the corner of Dance Plus in Little Silver hosts a non-denominational holiday tree decorated by wishes made for others.
The tree is selected at an area facility and a donation is made to a local charity when purchased. When choosing the tree great effort goes into finding the tree that would not typically find a home on Christmas Day. The tree chosen typically has holes where missing branches used to exist, a crooked trunk or just perhaps it is just a bit too chubby. It is the imperfect tree that will soon become the most beautiful gift to all.
Here is the story of how it all began...
Growing up in this area I was blessed with the most magical childhood by the most wonderful parents. The youngest of four children and two working parents had it's ups and downs but we always had family dinner together and the most memorable holidays filled with magical holiday traditions. Our holidays were blessed with strangers who needed a hot meal or someone to share a holiday dinner with. Through the years and through this kindness taught by my parents we accumulated many "extended family". Every Christmas Eve before the celebration of Christmas we would share a moment of calm after Christmas Eve mass. This was a favorite moment, one that I had hoped that I would share with my own family one day. You see on Christmas Eve, holiday magic was shared. This is how it began...
My parents would remind us what the season was about by this cherished holiday tradition. After decorating our Christmas tree and home, the final decoration placed was the Nativity with just Mary, Joseph and an empty manger. Throughout the season of Advent the manger would be filled, not with hay but with tiny slips of paper. Each slip held a description of a good deed done by either myself or one of my siblings. Once a good deed was placed in the manger there it remained until Christmas Eve.
On Christmas Eve after mass we would gather and wait with anxious anticipation to reveal who would get the best gift of all...placing baby Jesus in his bed made of good deeds. You see, we would sit together in front of the fire and listen to each other's good deeds that were performed through the season of Advent. To some this may seem like no big deal but to me, that moment in particular was not about "who won" but about family, togetherness and celebrating what we as children accomplished by giving kindness to our family and strangers.
These simple acts of kindness are what inspired me to create the "Wishmas Tree"
You see my husband and I have no children. (This tends to be argued by the thousands of children who have passed through the doors of the dance studio because each holds a special part of my heart) I wanted the children of the studio to experience a part of the holiday magic I had as a child. After close to twenty nine over thirty years of the studios existence, I wanted to remind the children that the holidays weren't about the "me", the holidays are about the "we". So here is how our Wishmas Tree came to be.
Our Wishmas Tree is decorated with wishes for others not for ourselves. That is the one rule of the Wishmas Tree. Its beauty comes from the "we" and not the "me". I have collected the wishes through the years and so much can be learned from children. The Wishmas Tree has been a sign of hope and healing. It has wished for cures for cancer as well as wishes for love. It has mended the broken hearts of sick friends and relatives to that of a broken country through 911. It has wished for the simple joy of a friend who moved from Florida to experience a Christmas snowfall to that of a grandparent finding a peaceful journey to heaven. The Wishmas Tree has wished for parents to find love again to a sibling finding a best friend. It has wished for a goldfish to find someone to play with to the homeless to find a home. It has wished for the soldiers to have a safe return to an older brother just coming home. It has wished for college acceptance as well as the acceptance of furry friends. You see the Wishmas Tree of Studio C is just that, a place to make a wish come true.
If you find yourself in need of a wish during the holidays. There in the corner of the Studio C you will see it gently prompting you to find that magic in your heart, to go ahead, make a wish. Take a moment to celebrate the magic of the season. It doesn't matter if you are a student now or from the past, a parent, or cousin, a stranger or a friend. It doesn't matter if you have shuffled or chasséd. What matters is that you have a simple wish to make. Come experience the magic, come make a wish, come and be a part of the "Wishmas Tree", no need for names, just wishes and by the way...
Merry "SQUISHMAS" and Have a joyful holiday season. May all of your "wishes" come true!