We cut our tree Saturday. We’ve been cutting our own trees 13 of the last 16 years. uiWe support a local business, get a fresh tree, and get a different tree than what they send from up north. We chose a Leyland Cypress (a repeat favorite) as it doesn’t drop needles (they’re compressed, unlike a fir), it makes the house smell wonderful as long as we don’t cook bacon, and lasts several weeks indoors. And we don’t mind hiking around, cutting, and hauling the tree around. That’s what you do when you cut your own.
We left it netted over night, and brought it inside on Sunday. The kids who netted it used the too-small chute, and several branches were broken, leaving a gap about ⅔ the way around the tree. It looks wonky, but not too bad. We let it sit Sunday indoors, in water, so the branches would relax.
While I was at work on Monday, Chris put the lights up, and began hanging decorations. I helped him finish the task, with the exception of our kids’ favorite ornaments, which they’ll hang when they arrive. The tree is 7-½’ tall, and many of our ornaments are lost in it. I mentioned rebelling and buying new, big, fancy ornaments, and was met with The Look. Heh. And I was pretty serious. This tall, angular tree needs some big, attitudinous decorations.
That’s when Chris, as he was hanging Korean-made ornaments, observed that many Christmas trees have a theme, and over the years he’s decided that ours is tradition. At first I thought he meant the tradition we created in Okpo, ROK, 12/83, and then I realized, as we continued to adorn the tree, that the tradition included my late mother’s fragile, 50 yr. old colored glass bulbs that we hung on our (fake) trees in the 60’s, that she inherited from her mother; a Texas Capital ornament given to us by a friend, etc. Our kids’ “baby’s first Christmas” balls with Smurfs and My Little Ponys. Their first clothespin reindeer. The rat from when our son danced in “The Nutcracker” in Santa Barbara, and more cool stuff. The angel topper I found at Mervyn’s in San Luis Obispo in 1988, that we still use. Everything we hang on the tree has a story, which in the retelling as we admire & hang the ornament, evokes a memory (or 3) that make the season alive. The more you speak to history, the more relevant it becomes. And when you speak of those who’ve passed, the more you keep them alive and share their spirit.
So when we talk about these traditions and the stories that surround them, the memories come alive, the people who mattered and are no longer with us come alive, and we enjoy the memories. I hope that the significants, the reason why those people and those memories matter, is kept alive. Talking about people who have passed before your time, sharing the stories, bring them to life, and share with future generations. Let’s help keep those folks’ stories alive. Tell them. The things you do that you don’t mean anything actually matter.Love what those traditions, what that history, means to you, and keep adding on to it.
There is no wrong way to do Christmas. All the celebrations, Christian, Pagan, Jewish, Non-Denominational, et al,have huge significance. Celebrate and experience joy.