Christmas trees, like many holiday traditions, are intensely personal parts of our lives. We look at the way we grew up, the way our family has always done things, and everyone else seems just wrong! It’s just impossible for a ‘real tree’ person to cross over and live with a fake tree! I touched on this last week with the subject of mealtime prayers. Then I realized while reading other blogs that a great feud is to be had by pitting our Christmas tree traditions against one another. We’d go to my Dad’s parents around Christmas, but their real cedar tree always looked so transparent and lifeless compared to our lush, full fake tree at home! The only thing saving that real “tree” was the copious amounts of tinsel they threw all over it.
What does your family do? Does it go real or fake? Do you chop it down yourselves? Do you pick a particular kind of tree each year? Have particular ornaments you are especially fond of? What other Christmas tree traditions are essential in your family? Any Christmas tree debacles that come to mind? Oh, do you have one of those ornaments of Santa kneeling beside baby Jesus? If you don’t I’m not sure what to say to you, but I’ll pray for your soul.
Here are a few traditions that come to my mind, not necessarily from my family:
One family in my church never fails to purchase a Christmas tree that is not about 3 sizes too large for their living room. They take into account the tall height of the room, but seem to forget the tree’s incredible girth, big enough for the tree to watch TV, eat dinner and tuck the kids into bed, all in three seperate rooms.
Another family procrastinates getting the tree until the week of Christmas. Maybe they’re hoping they can sock it to the tree salesman, desperate to unload his unused stock, but it seems the trees would be pretty picked over by then. But then there’s people who do their shopping exclusively on Christmas Eve.
My best friend growing up lived in a family full of sci-fi superfans. I was shocked at their Christmas tree. Almost every ornament was the Starship Enterprise, the Millennium Falcon, or some other stupid Stargate or Dune themed bric-a-brac. But better yet, most of the ornaments lit up, moved, or made noise! I’m surprised Santa had any Christmas magic left to bring them any presents!
My family had a small fake tree for many years. The problem was that my mother is a teacher, and kids are always giving her ornaments. So once each of the tree’s branches had three ornaments a piece on them, and they looked as if they would snap under the weight, we had to upgrade. We’ve always stuck with fake, except for one year, which we did not like. My brother’s and my tender hands were skewered most unpleasantly by the tree’s needles while hanging ornaments.
I count my blessings often that I did not grow up being my grandfather’s son. My mom’s dad was a mechanical engineer. He was meticulous, a perfectionist like none other. I cannot adequately describe the minutae he dedicated himself to in his hobbies and life in general. Except to say that my mom tells us their tree was very precise. She and her two sisters did not help decorate the tree. To leave such a thing as important as a Christmas tree to the whims of three little girls would be much too random. Why would you want a completely slapdash, sloppy looking tree! What would the neighbors think? Grandpa had fashioned a diagram of the Christmas tree. A diagram to document where each light and ornament was to be placed. My mom did admit their silver tree was very beautiful…in just the methodical, calculated, emotionally removed way only a mechanical engineer could achieve.
I do plan on watching Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown this weekend. In fact, we have it on DVD. I don’t care that I’m in my mid-20s, have no kids, and have seen it a thousand times. So there. Do you realize that show is the reason pastors have to keep around a King James Bible just for the Christmas service?