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The Secret of the Musical Tree (Judy Bolton Mysteries, #19)
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#19: Secret of the Musical Tree > Chapter 24: The Secret of the Musical Tree - Summary

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William Land (williamland) | 1253 comments Mod
Chapter 24: Christmas Eve

Judy arrives home that night to wreaths on the windows and a warm welcome. The Christmas tree is in the bay window waiting to be decorated, and Mrs. Bolton has supper ready. Stockings are hung for all of the children, including the adults. Roxy is still missing and the cab driver is gone for the holidays. However, the cab driver’s brother was found and interviewed so Peter knows that the ladder was returned. This fact and the fact that Roxy is not in a local hospital points to the certainty that Roxy made it down the ladder safely. Judy remembers the green glass piece in Roxy’s purse and suddenly realizes it is a reflector from the musical tree. This leads to another idea which she keeps to herself.

This chapter is almost pure atmosphere and could have been skipped. However, I love it and am glad Margaret took the time to thoroughly describe the homecoming.

Also, I wonder if Christmas was enjoyed more in other days when the celebration didn’t drag on for months and gifts were simpler. Trees were only up a few days and the day after Thanksgiving was truly the start of the season as stores didn’t unveil their decorations until then. I am guilty of decorating early (soon after Thanksgiving) and am sometimes tired of Christmas by the time it is over.


message 2: by Roni (new)

Roni Denholtz | 20 comments I, too, remember when they didn't decorate for Christmas until after Thanksgiving. Now they decorate right after Halloween! It's too early. Let's enjoy Thanksgiving first!
Roni Denholtz
P.S. I tried replying to the email and it bounces. It seems we must reply on Goodreads.


message 3: by Lindsay (new)

Lindsay Stroh | 137 comments When I was little, I was told that the Christmas season began when we saw Santa Claus at the end of the Macy's parade on Thanksgiving. I have wonderful memories of Mom teaching me how to wrap presents. The ones being sent faraway were then wrapped as "brown paper packages wrapped up in string" just like the song. Mom was very thrifty. We opened Christmas and birthday presents carefully and saved the paper and ribbon. Mom would trim the edges and save the paper, then iron it when we were ready to use it again. The ribbon got ironed too!
Lindsay


Rebekah (rebroxanna) | 631 comments Roni wrote: "I, too, remember when they didn't decorate for Christmas until after Thanksgiving. Now they decorate right after Halloween! It's too early. Let's enjoy Thanksgiving first!
Roni Denholtz
P.S. I trie..."

I work in a "general store" and we already have our Christmas decor out to sell, including a musical tree that looks just like the picture on the dust jacket. Our Christmas stuff is selling quickly, so don't blame the stores!


message 5: by Cindy (new)

Cindy Sweet | 187 comments We never put out tree up until Christmas Eve afternoon and it came down NY Day. I was envious of those who had them up longer.


Rebekah (rebroxanna) | 631 comments Cindy wrote: "We never put out tree up until Christmas Eve afternoon and it came down NY Day. I was envious of those who had them up longer."

I often saw this tradition in movies. It always seemed like such a waste of effort and expense for such a short period of time. We always put ours up around the first weekend in December.


message 7: by Kathleen (new)

Kathleen | 162 comments When I was little, we always kept the tree up until my birthday.


message 8: by Lindsay (new)

Lindsay Stroh | 137 comments Before electricity, the tree would be put up on Christmas eve, the candles on it were lit, and the children were called in so everyone could admire it for a little while. I think only people with higher incomes did this, as it was expensive and required extra caution.


message 9: by Lorraine (new)

Lorraine Rogers | 47 comments I think that we start celebrating Christmas too early. Growing up I thought the day after Thanksgiving was exciting because many stores In my town decorated then for Christmas. It’s not even Halloween and I’m starting to see Christmas items in stores.


message 10: by Lindsay (new)

Lindsay Stroh | 137 comments I just listened again to an interview with Mom (Margaret Sutton) that was recorded in 1971. In discussing plotting, she mentioned "The Secret of the Musical Tree." She explained that sometimes the characters would take over and tell her what to write. She mentioned a criminal whom she planned to be a cruel person. When Judy started talking to him about Christmas, he started feeling homesick and weepy. Judy used this to her advantage, which changed the whole story. I will play the whole interview (about 45 minutes) during the Judy Bolton weekend on Zoom.
Lindsay


message 11: by Cindy (new)

Cindy Sweet | 187 comments Rebekah wrote: "Cindy wrote: "We never put out tree up until Christmas Eve afternoon and it came down NY Day. I was envious of those who had them up longer."

I often saw this tradition in movies. It always seemed..."


I think it may have been a German tradition. My husband's family did the same thing, except the kids went to bed and Santa decorated the tree, supposedly. Now, it's bad enough that the poor guy has to deliver presents to the entire world in a day but stopping to decorate trees? But we both got woken up at midnight to open presents. It was very magical to a young child. Because of it being dark out and all the lights, I guess


William Land (williamland) | 1253 comments Mod
I loved reading the comments in this chapter's discussion. I, too, think that Christmas is celebrated far too early and too long in the season. Personally, I think the decorations should come out a week or eight days before Christmas and come down on January 2nd (or the closest weekend to that date).

When I lived alone in apartments, I usually did not put up a tree because I was going to be away at Christmas. Also, it's an incredible amount of work to assemble and decorate it and it even seems like more to put it away. Also, the tree seems to take up so much room (a chair is often removed for it) and there is so much company at Christmas, I always thought that every home needed the chair more than the tree in our small to medium sized living rooms!

My last landlord was Father Christmas and he insisted that I decorate and he put up lights for me in my apartment each year. I didn't the first year because I had moved in on December 12th and most of my stuff wasn't organized and I had little interest in Christmas decorating when I was still trying to organize my kitchen into a smaller space than I had in my previous apartment.

The next year Father Christmas aka Paul was so happy when I said I was putting up a tree. Paul was disappointed and not impressed when I pulled a ceramic tree from its box and plugged it in; it took three minutes! It's also very special to me because my cherished aunt made it for me.

Wendy, my housemate, has enough Christmas decorations for three homes and I kept some of my own favourites. I just let her do whatever she wants although I have missed my own decorations for the past few Christmases.

Still, I understand why so many people love decorating a tree. I remember some of Faye's stories about her trees and they always sounded lovely.

Does anyone remember the tinsel discussion that was held on the Yahoo Group a few years ago? Members were certainly divided about using that decoration!


message 13: by Beverly (new)

Beverly | 1057 comments William wrote: "Chapter 24: Christmas Eve

Judy arrives home that night to wreaths on the windows and a warm welcome. The Christmas tree is in the bay window waiting to be decorated, and Mrs. Bolton has supper ready..."


When we were younger, I remember decorating the tree the day school was dismissed for the holidays. That would have been around December 20 or 21. My in-laws decorated the tree on December 23rd, the birthday of their eldest. I remember my mother's selling point for an artificial tree was that we could put it up right after Thanksgiving.


message 14: by Kathleen (new)

Kathleen | 162 comments Well, Christmas decorations should be left up until January 6, the feast of the Epiphany a/k/a the feast of the Magi, as this is the 12th day of Christmas.


Rebekah (rebroxanna) | 631 comments Kathleen wrote: "Well, Christmas decorations should be left up until January 6, the feast of the Epiphany a/k/a the feast of the Magi, as this is the 12th day of Christmas."
Yep. Especially if you are Catholic, Episcopalian or Lutheran!


message 16: by Peter (new)

Peter Clark | 89 comments I start decorating right after Thanksgiving. I don't have a set time frame to get everything up, but it does take me about a week to do it all. I too leave my Nativity up until the 6th for the Epiphany.
A new tradition I started A few years back was an Elf hunt. Not to be confused with elf on the shelf. I collect Annalee elves and always add 1 or 2 new ones every season. I have them all over the house in nooks and crannies. It's like an Easter egg hunt but with elves. The kids love it. I tell them how many there are around and they have to see who can come up with locating them. They don't move the elves away from their spots. It's more a counting game. About a month ago one of the kids asked if I was going to do it again this year, so I guess it's a hit.


message 17: by Lindsay (new)

Lindsay Stroh | 137 comments Peter, I love the Elf Hunt--how lucky those kids are to have you in their lives.


message 18: by Peter (new)

Peter Clark | 89 comments Thank you Lindsay. That is so kind of you to say. Really, I'm the lucky one.


message 19: by Cindy (new)

Cindy Sweet | 187 comments Rebekah wrote: "Kathleen wrote: "Well, Christmas decorations should be left up until January 6, the feast of the Epiphany a/k/a the feast of the Magi, as this is the 12th day of Christmas."
Yep. Especially if you ..."



I am Lutheran and we did not do that.


William Land (williamland) | 1253 comments Mod
Lindsay wrote: "Peter, I love the Elf Hunt--how lucky those kids are to have you in their lives."

Peter, I love the story of the Elf hunt, too! What fun for kids of all ages!


message 21: by Faye (new)

Faye Kisker | 408 comments I love this topic and it looks like a lot of people do.
Victorians only keep the candles lit for a very short amount of time as it is very dangerous. More like minutes than hours. So they probably needed a very fresh tree since any dryness made it even more dangerous.
My mother said after they went to bed on Christmas Eve, her father brought in and decorated the tree and their Christmas village which stretched all along one wall. It must have been very extravagant. I don't know when they took it down.
I am Catholic and we always left our tree up until after January 6. And we had a manger scene under our tree and we kept the wise men out and on the other side of the tree. Every day we were allowed to move them closer to the manger until they arrived Jan 6. Now I leave the tree up until after my birthday which Jan 15. We put it up around the first weekend in December and it always lasts very nicely.
It is funny that I read this today becasue when I woke this morning, I had a panicky feeling and thought, we don't even have our Christmas tree yet. We always get a real one so I do not know why I thought that in my sleep.
I confess that I always get excited when I see Christmas things for sale in the store no matter when it is. Some people use the decorations in crafts or for gifts and more time is needed than just a few weeks before. Christmas usually is a major part of a stores sales for the year so you really can't blame the merchants for starting as soon as they can.
I usually start decorating the day after Thanksgiving but it does take me a long time. I have a lot of Christmas decorations and I love them all.
Yes, Bill, I have had several Christmas tree adventures in my family. I am laughing right now thinking of two of them.


Rebekah (rebroxanna) | 631 comments Beverly, I agree with you about Christmas decorations in stores. If people weren't buying them, Stores would not be putting them out! I also do not have a problems with getting an early start on making Christmas crafts, buying Christmas gifts all year round, Christmas movies on Hallmark in July, or shopping in Christmas shops that are open all year round.
I absolutely love your tradition of moving the wisemen closer everyday until Jan 6. I have never heard of that, but it's brilliant! It is kind of similar to the advent calendar tradition. As a Lutheran turned Episcopalian, I was always very aware of the Church Calendar.


message 23: by Beverly (new)

Beverly | 1057 comments William wrote: "My last landlord was Father Christmas and he insisted that I decorate and he put up lights for me in my apartment each year.."

My son's housemate insisted on having a tree last year. That made me happy. Christmas decorating is a lot of work for one person.


message 24: by Beverly (new)

Beverly | 1057 comments Lindsay wrote: "I just listened again to an interview with Mom (Margaret Sutton) that was recorded in 1971. In discussing plotting, she mentioned "The Secret of the Musical Tree." " She explained that sometimes the characters would take over and tell her what to write. ."

I love Anne Lamont's quote about writing down what the characters tell you because thrir handwriting is so bad. I certainly have felt like that.


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