One of my favorite holiday traditions is the Christmas tree. My tree at home is a 12-footer and I can’t even put the top on the tree without scraping the ceiling. It was one of those “spur of the moment” purchases that caused my husband to roll his eyes and sigh.
Even though I have to create a topper out of artificial berries, branches and one very large bow, I love my tree. And, I love pulling out the ornaments each year, unwrapping them and remembering where and when we purchased them or who gave them to us or which kid made them. Boxes and boxes of ornaments. (Here is where my husband sighs again).
We decorate our tree the weekend of Thanksgiving every year so that we can enjoy it through the Advent season, but we don’t take it down until after Twelfth Night or January 5th. According to my husband, it is bad luck to do so. Although I secretly think he uses this superstition as an excuse to leave our tree up longer because he loves it as much as I do.
I remember my first Christmas tree as an adult. I had taken a job at a newspaper in Hutchinson, Kansas. I went to the local store and purchased a live tree, which a nice man was kind enough to tie to the top of my Subaru. I drove back to my small apartment, drug the tree upstairs and placed it in front of my window.
It stood a little crooked. Of course, that was probably because it was so big. I seem to have a problem picking trees that fit my space. Anyway, I tied the tree to the wall, don’t ask me how….it was complicated and probably against my renter’s agreement.
But, when it was decorated with my small box of ornaments, given to me from my grandmother, it was fabulous, if a little crooked.
This year I had the opportunity to decorate my own tree, and to help the staff at the convention and visitor’s bureau decorate a tree in celebration of the 30th anniversary of the eagle awareness program at the Lake Guntersville State Park.
The tree is part of many that line the rooms of Guntersville Museum as part of their annual Festival of Trees. I encourage you to take an hour and wander through the many trees that have been decorated this year. The museum is open daily and admission is free.
The tree it seems is an important part of the holiday tradition, for me and for many others. Trees have been part of Christmas since the Protestant Reformer Martin Luther added candles to an evergreen in 16th Century Germany. The first trees were often decorated with edible items such as apples, berries and nuts. Children would then eat the items on Christmas Day.
With the development of electricity, strings of lights replaced candles and figurines and symbols of Christmas such as angels and stars replaced the edible decorations. The United States has had an official Christmas tree lighting every year since 1923. And, most of our local cities light their own tree each year to kick off the holiday season.
Why, even Charlie Brown recognized that with a little love and a few colorful lights, the smallest evergreen, no matter how thin its branches, could shine. Maybe I should take a few pointers from one of my favorite cartoon characters and downsize next year…..nah!
I am all about the ode to the evergreen. I am humming even as I type the words “Oh Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree.”