Blue Christmas: The Red and Black of This Year's Capitol Tree an essay on the newsreport in of Arizona's Christmas gift to the nation; by stephanie pope for and Mythopoetics In Culture blog
myth and poetry



Blue Christmas -stephanie pope
The Red & Black of This Year’s Capitol Tree

I heard this year’s Washington, DC Capitol tree is an 85 foot blue spruce from the White Mountains of Arizona. Decorations may very well be red on a green Christmas tree but this year’s ‘green’ is blue and we’ll have a blue Christmas when the national tree is officially lit Thanksgiving Day.

It is the first black presidency. It is the first blue spruce to be gifted the nation from Arizona. And the tree comes from the red lands, the Apache-Sitgreaves Forest of the White Mountains. The lands and the mountain are sacred to the Apache who preside over the ceremonial tree cutting ceremony. The tree begins its 4,000 mile journey to Washington. Indeed, something sacred has occurred.  

The tree is going to be in my hometown of Fountain Hills tomorrow and I am going to be there to see it! So yesterday I went to The Arizona Republic’s website, and looked up the article printed in the November 8th edition of the Sunday newspaper to read more about what exactly I can expect. The article, “Ariz. Christmas tree begins journey to D.C.: 85-foot spruce to be displayed at U.S. Capitol” by Matthew Benson, is filed on line under Arizona Politics.

Judging by the comments just after the narrative, it seems people are indeed trying to politicize the event. One example is economic: who is responsible for the ‘red & black’ controversy statewide and nationwide over spending and budget short-falls during this administration's presidency? Another is environmental. “It doesn’t seem very ‘green’.” I think the sense of ‘green’ this reader ‘means’ has to do with the environmental movement afoot.

But using the word/image ‘green’ invokes all the other meanings the word invisibly ghosts and reveals the culture war at work underneath it. That war began when the image red state/blue state arose out of 21st century election maps as a way of getting data to conform to geography. What’s wrong with that approach is that it tends to distort the accuracy of what the data means to reveal. This year’s green is blue and that’s an irony at work. But, when you get to that irony in the language and you realize nobody intends it, what on earth does such irony no body means to mean ‘mean’?

You see even the notion of ‘mental’ in our environs are not ‘in’ us. They are ‘other’ than ‘us’ and make senses that mean something bigger than our politic in our lifestyles and our self-interests in our arguments when they take their image substances from events themselves. These soul-movements will turn events like the cutting of the national tree over into experiences we share more deeply because of the way they mysteriously matter throughout our life in common.   

And then there are the mental ‘states’ which throw every thing we are thinking into the space where meaning is in the slippage going on where this other environ-and-mental world worlds; this might reveal to us once more our life in common, if we let it. Then, our words and their meanings open back to reveal the image that makes us belong-together and this is what lights up our Blue Christmas and makes it come to life.

You see, ‘things’ get thrown into suspense and images are of the imagination and our wonder where such images and suspense comes to what anything ‘means’. Furthermore, some people count on all this to make something of it. One kind will make anything, even the cutting, hauling, and setting up of the national Christmas tree in the nation’s capitol about politics. They take a symbolic moment and they politicize it to create a literalism that objectifies the tree as an object of use. The moment really isn’t about a political act. It isn’t about some ‘thing’ like the killing of a 70 year old blue spruce, pointing the finger here or there and saying, “Guilty”.  

And that’s where another kind will step up to the sense-making platform to suggest a mytheme operates in cultural psyche —a mytheme opens nowhere.  They suggest how these images might be making ‘something’ of it, too, not things, meta-cognitions, symbols. And these symbols suggest something marvelous goes on.

I’m one of these latter kinds. So, before I continue revealing the mythic image hidden in the cultural movement, it might be a good idea to read the article first. Be sure to note the comments by on line readers since my blog is really about the lack in depth connection where readers are taking flattened readings when comments are made. They’re too shallow; they don’t go deep enough; they remain polarized positions. It may be in-between my own thoughts in this blog is woven an unspoken silence or silent suggestion for where to resituate one’s ‘self’ to appreciate the tree and Christmas this dark year when so many will not be home for the holidays.

Christmas Blue

I like to explore the soul of color and have written a lot about that experience each time I do. One of my favorite spaces to explore is the soul of blue. One of my favorite books on color, Michel Pastoureau‘s Blue: The History of a Color, details the history of the color blue. Some ideas I have after reading this book and many others, too, suggest to me the psyche of blue opens a poetic space where what it is to express blue’s eros causes a progressive shortening of the senses. (Rilke) As William Gass puts it in On Being Blue: "I can see you for miles; I can hear you for blocks; I can smell you, for a few feet, but I can only touch on contact, taste as I devour.

treeAs our senses ‘dematerialize’ things as things, they appear in what they are, soul-images in the material imagination of our imaginal life. That psyche in poetizing everything is going to dissolve our boundaries of separation and recreate a ‘more perfect union’ imaginally; this felt-sense, if we can achieve it, will outlast us this Christmas; it will outshine us and out live us and that is because the tree is like the Earth, our mother. It sustains us in a selfless way and teaches us how to live.
So we get together across regionalisms and nationalisms and politicisms and we touch on contact and kill a tree together. The soul of the tree is sacrificed in a sacred manner. That’s what the Apache ceremony is about.  The ceremony is photographed, put into a slide presentation and is published on line through Just click on the link to view it.

At this moment the tree continues its ceremonial journey to Washington, DC and tomorrow (November 11th) will stop in my hometown. Then it will continue on and eventually it arrives in the nation’s capitol where it will be dressed in Christmas regalia. Regalia means ritual costume. What has happened?

At the end of Pastoreau's book he writes about blue today. He says blue changes its meaning in a very slow way, much slower than the pace at which our culture likes to move. Blue is very magical and to keep up with it you have to slow down. Blue speaks calmly. Furthermore, its semantic field invokes the sky and the sea according to Pastoreau. I take this to mean the semantics invokes the imagination of ‘air’ and ‘water’. The link to water and air is also, of current times, a link to cold. Blue is thought of as a cold color. Air, water, cold—that’s how snow is made!  And, there it is the secret wish hidden in symbol form, White Christmas: let’s have snow, and mistletoe and ‘presence’ on the tree. What?

Yes, that is what it says: “The dove is on the tree.” The ritual act of the giving tree this year performed and carried to Washington, DC by the Apache of the White Mountain has brought our hearts’ desire into communion and the blue nature of it will stand there in the Nation’s capitol for all to see and feel and devour on contact imaginally speaking; because it dies for us and becomes more peaceably blue, let’s all be that home for Christmas this year, especially in our dreams.

*Note: This essay has been republished to Mythopoetry Blog 11-12-09 excerpt of this essay appears on line at Mythopoetics In Culture,'s BlogSpot

About the Capitol Christmas Tree, 2009

* 85 FT conifer from Arizona's Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests

* First time in US History Arizona has gifted the Capitol Christmas Tree

* 5,000 handmade ornaments from Arizona's school children

* 10,000 Christmas tree lights

* 80 additional trees will decorate Capitol offices

* 4,000 mile Arizona and National Tour to Washington, DC

* 50,000+ volunteer hours donated

* up to $200,000 to fund the entire operation

* paid for by cash and in-kind donations

The Capitol Christmas Tree 2009 Project

To track the tree on its journey, read about the traditions and history of the Capitol Tree Program since its inception in 1964, projects for making tree ornaments, a media kit, maps, a photo gallery, more about the Forest Service, maps and merchandise visit

from The Poetry of Color
In between Red & Blue

from The Poetry of Trees
Serpent Show
mythopoetics mythopoesis
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