A woman moved through the crowd towards me. She was tall, slender, blonde, about my age in her early 40s and wearing a lovely knit wool cap. Her eyes just sparkled with wonder. "Excuse me, may I ask you a question?" she asked in a beautiful accent. I smiled, "Yes, of course." She proceeded, "Did they really decorate the tree with popcorn? Is it really a tradition?" I followed with, "Yes, it was quite common among Americans." She smiled more brightly, "I am from Russia. We did not have popcorn until after the Soviet Union fell. It was a special treat."
My first thought was simply "Wow". Choosing my words carefully, I answered; "Popcorn has been a common, inexpensive treat in North America for quite some time. A string of popcorn is a very inexpensive and an easy decoration that anyone can make. I imagine it was not allowed in the Soviet Union because it is very American."
"This is true", she smiled. "These are the things we discovered after... It is sooo beautiful. I cannot believe they had so much. I must do this at Christmas. Thank You." With that, she quickly moved back through the crowd to gaze at the tree for a second time.
The exchange was so brief and yet, so meaningful. I am not sure that I am able to capture the wonder and excitement that was present in her voice or on her face over a simple string of popcorn.