What's With a Christmas Tree Anyway?

What's With a Christmas Tree Anyway?
Posted on January 22nd, 2023

To tree or not to tree, that is the question. Oh, Christmas Angel, please guide my decision, as I am contemplating not putting up a Christmas tree this year. Yes, we decorated the house with holly, wreaths, poinsettias and other holiday trimmings, but the tree stands silently in a box in the garage, awaiting its fate.

Having coffee with my husband, Doug, one morning, I said that I think maybe we might just forget about putting up the tree this year. Doug stared at me for a few seconds, then started fist-pumping as he joyfully yelled, “Yes!” Hey, this was not the response I had hoped for! What about thoughtful discussion of the pros and cons? Yikes, I thought he loved our Christmas tree!

When I mentioned this “tree situation” to my girlfriend, she said (in a very serious tone), “Well, you know this is how old people think. Last month you wanted to buy flat dress shoes instead of heels; this month you are ditching the Christmas tree. What’s next?” Ouch! It’s just a tree and has nothing to do with “getting old.” It’s all about convenience.

My daughter, Tammy, is holding Christmas at her house this year. The whole family will be gathered, including my grandson, who serves in the Navy and has missed every Christmas for six years. So, it seems like a perfect time to “take a break” from decorating. Because I usually make all big meals for the holidays, Doug and I are looking forward to being guests instead of hosts. You know, show up late, eat well and leave early.

Getting back to the tree dilemma, I cannot recall not having a Christmas tree beautifully decorated gracing our home over the holidays. Old ornaments that the grandkids made; little silver bells with engraved birthdates of family members; even my horses had ornaments made with their photos. The angel we put on top was given to me by my parents about 30 years ago.

My niece says that when you break with traditions that you love it is because you are depressed (not really). My neighbor hasn’t put a tree up since her husband’s shoulder surgery, which was two years ago (good choice). A close friend claims that the tree is the one true symbol of Christmas and when that goes, so does the wonder of the holiday (nonsense).

O Tannenbaum, O Christmas tree, how lovely are thy branches. What exactly does the Christmas tree symbolize? And how did it evolve into the most celebrated icon of the season? Going back to 16th century Germany, Christians began decorating trees, often placing candles on the branches. The Christmas tree tradition was not widely embraced in America until the mid-1800s. Homemade decorations of berries on strings and cookies hung on branches were an early custom. By the 1900s, Americans were buying shiny ornaments and tinsel.

There is more to the Christmas season than a tree! To the folks who are convinced that not putting up a tree is “sad,” I say, “Don’t get your tinsel in a tangle.” There’s always mistletoe.

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