This year is the first year in my 54 years of marriage and 76 years of living that I haven’t decorated a tree. I seem to be letting go of a lot of the old traditions lately. Many think that the Christmas tree is a throwback to pagan religions and really doesn’t have anything to do with the real reason for the season, but I still believe there is symbolism beyond measure in whatever kind of tree we place within our holiday preparations.
I recall days when we’d wrap up the children in all their snow gear and trudge through the snow at a tree farm to cut a fresh, pine tree. What should’ve been a fun experience often turned into frozen little fingers, cranky little bodies and a mom and dad who thought they were creating wonderful memories for their kids. The experience often became a search for the perfect tree in the eye of the artist – which didn’t exist.
We’d load the tree on top of the car, shuttle the “happy family” back home and begin the next chore of setting it up in the house – hoping the dog wouldn’t pee on it – placing a plethora of ornaments in just the right place – and watching our frozen clothing melt by the back door. Hot chocolate was always a necessary component, topped with mini marshmallows and maybe a dollop of ice cream.
Pretty soon the kids were fast asleep and mom and dad continued to decorate the tree, while the dog lapped up the frozen residue from our boots. The ornaments were a conglomeration of homemade clothespin angels, sequin covered holiday wreaths, the hand me downs from our parent’s, snowballs, birds, strung cranberries and popcorn, and a star to top it off.
I have had some reservations about not putting up a tree. It feels kind of weird to be without one, but at our age, it seems unnecessary, especially since most of our celebrating will be done at others’ homes. Oh, my – I feel like Scrooge saying that.
The Christmas tree may be window dressing to some, but if you look at it from a spiritual perspective, there’s more to it. It all started in a garden with two trees. A tree was used to craft a manger which would hold the Savior of the world. His life would end, hanging from the cross beams made from a tree. He rose again so that we would gain eternal life in paradise. The green of the evergreen symbolizes that new life. The red trimmings we place on it signifies the blood that was shed for us. The lights are reflections symbolic of Jesus’s followers and the star on top represents the Light of the World – Jesus.
Martin Luther picked up the tradition from his German ancestors. Queen Victoria thought it a good idea as well. Down through the ages, Christmas trees have been a center point of the celebration.
I’ll miss my tree this year, but it isn’t vital to Christmas. The important reason for this wonderful time of year, is that God loves us so much, He gave His only begotten Son to take away our sins and assure our salvation.