Palmer Memorial Episcopal Church


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Posted by Susan Howard on

I am a Palmer Daughter of the King and each year the members of our Order join together to decorate our beautiful Chrismon Tree that shines out of the second floor windows of the Parish Hall Tower Room toward Fannin and Cambridge streets and the Texas Medical Center beyond. It was our hope to continue that tradition this year in a socially distanced manner but then the COVID numbers began their steady rise in November, and we knew we should stay hunkered down and away from indoor spaces.

While we sorely miss our beautiful tradition of being together to hang the Chrismons, we didn’t want our neighbors and passersby to go through Advent and Christmas in the dark. So we decided to reach out to some trusted friends who could safely bring the tree to the Tower Room and hang the 3,000 lights that light up our corner.

 According to Wikipedia, a Chrismon tree is an evergreen tree that is often placed in the chancel or nave of a church during Advent and Christmastide. It was first used by North American Lutherans in 1957, and now the practice has spread to other Christian denominations, including Anglicans, Catholics, Methodists and others. It differs from the traditional Christmas tree in that it is decorated only with clear lights and Chrismons made from white and gold material, the liturgical colors of the Christmas season.

The Chrismons are ancient symbols for Christ: the dove descending down, a fish, the Celtic cross, the Jerusalem cross, the shepherd’s crook, the chalice, a shell…. The Chrismons that traditionally hang on Palmer’s tree embrace those themes and have been lovingly made since the 1980s by the Palmer Daughters. An all-time favorite, made by Barbara Hass, is the Emmanuel ornament with baby Jesus in the chreche. We have always opted to locate our tree in community space where lots of people gather; it was first located in Parish Hall and then in the Tower Room after newly constructed space became available.

The Daughters have many fond memories of our activities around the Chrismon. We have gathered in one another’s homes to teach our new Daughters how to make the Chrismons; we have joined together outside Parish Hall to hang them on the tree and greet fellow parishioners arriving for Great Wednesday dinner. Unique materials, some from plants in our homes, have been used in the making of them; we have put pipe cleaners and other art craft materials out for Palmer children to make them as well and hang on their own trees at home.

So this year the Chrismons will stay in their crocheted covers inside boxes, being kept safe for the future as the Palmer Daughters of the King – and ALL Palmers – stay as safe as possible in the time of COVID. We want to extend heartfelt thanks to Dennis Kutach and Jimmy Parrales for putting the tree up in the Tower Room and weaving the 3,000 lights through its branches. It is always ready for the 1st Sunday in Advent – this year will be just a little different – as the lights go on Sunday night to spread Palmer’s mission to know and share the love of Jesus Christ.

The Rev. Linda R. Shelton summed it up beautifully in this note to the Palmer Daughters. “While thinking about the Chrismon tree and our being a little sad we can't adorn it with our beloved ornaments, I remembered that the many symbols or monograms of Christ and making him known is our ultimate purpose. Since he is the ‘light of the world’, we can take consolation in the lights being our focus, and this simple but strong message is our task and joy this year…. I know it will be a comfort to Palmers, a gift to those who pass by and to all who are seeking light amidst the darkness.”