The little Christmas tree in the lobby of my building. Last chance to enjoy its Westerness because it’s coming down first thing the morning of the 25th. I read Andersen’s story The Fir Tree the other day and it reminded me of people I’ve known, never noticed that before.
Elias Bredsdorff, Hans Christian Andersen, The Story of His Life and Work:
“We follow the fate of the fir tree from its childhood in the wood to its death as a withered and discarded Christmas tree. In all its life it had never had a happy moment, for either it was looking forward to something better than the present, or it was thinking nostalgically of the past. When it was small it was in a hurry to grow big, hated being called a ‘a dear little tree,’ and never felt able to enjoy the warmth of the sun or the sweetness of the air. It was envious of the big fir trees which were felled to make masts for splendid ships, and its impatience increased when it saw its friends being taken away before Christmas and heard the sparrows describing the glory and spender in store for them as Christmas trees. But when its own turn came and it was the first to be felled, it had no thoughts of happiness … When the great moment comes and the candles are lit, the fir tree is so tense that it is unable to enjoy the moment but looks forward to a repetition the next night. … In the end the tree is taken out into the yard, all withered and yellow, and is trampled on by the children.”
In Andersen’s own words:
“From as early as I can remember, reading was my only and my dearest occupation; my parents were poor, but my father was very fond of reading and therefore had some books, which i swallowed. I never played with the other boys, I was always alone.
“No other winter has passed as quietly and happily as this one. The Improvisatore has gained me respect among the noblest and best of people, even the general public have come to show me more respect, fortunately I have no pecuniary anxieties, and latterly I have been able to enjoy a pleasant existence. The publishers send me magazines … and then I sit with my gaily colored slippers in my dressing gown, with my legs put up on the sofa, the stove purring, the tea urn singing on the table, and I enjoy a smoke. Then I think of the poor boy in Odense wearing his wooden shoes, and then my heart melts, and I bless the Lord. Now I have reached my zenith, I feel. Later on it will go downwards.
“My years of writing began with my return from abroad. I may have another four or six years in which I shall still be able to write well, and I must use them. This I am doing comfortably at home before a crackling fire, and then my muse comes to visit me; she tells me strange fairy tales, shows me funny characters from daily life — peers as well as commoners — saying, ‘look at those people, you know them; depict them and — they shall live!’ This is asking a lot, I know, but that is what she says.
“I shall give you a plan of my week, but first the usual order of the day. At eight o’clock: coffee; then I read and write till eleven or twelve o’clock, when I go to the Students’ Union to read the newspapers, then I have a bath, go for a walk and pay visits until three o’clock; then rest. At four to six dinner, and the remaining part I spend at home working or reading. If there is something new in the theater then I am THERE, and nowhere else, in the evening. My dinners are as follows: Mondays at Mrs Bugel’s, where the dinner is always as if for a big party; Tuesdays at the Collins’, where the eldest son and his wife also dine on that day, and therefore we get something special; Wednesdays at the Orseds’, who always invite their guest on that day; Thursdays again at Mrs. Bugel’s; Fridays at the Wulffs’, where Weyse always comes on the same day and plays his fantasies on the piano after dinner.”