There are many stories and legends out there about how Christmas trees became one of our most beloved and enduring holiday traditions. Some say it started back in the days of the Druids when they would bring a tree into the home to represent the coming of spring and new life after the long, dark winter. Along about the 16th century, it is believed that church folk started to bring trees inside to decorate as a way to celebrate the coming of new life with the birth of the Christ child. Whatever the reason, I cannot image a Christmas without some form of tree to usher in a time of hope and celebration.
Christmas trees have run the gamut from huge and ostentatious to small and humble in my life. Growing up in New York City, it wasn't officially Christmas until the huge tree in Rockefeller Center was lit up. As a child, I remember the old and treasured ornaments that we unboxed every year with love, and the shrieks of laugher as we attacked the poor tree with handfuls of that awful tinsel that got in everything. Once my own girls were grown and putting up trees in their own homes, I downsized to a smaller, table top tree ... plus I grew tired of the destruction caused by cats trying to climb up a big tree and bringing it crashing down.
Last year I saw a sweet little artificial woodland tree that spoke to me of a simpler, more holy time and my daughter gifted it to me. Now my little tree sits on the table decorated with tiny woodland creatures, homemade decorations from the little ones, and simple golden stars. It seems to me that this is more in keeping with what our ancestors had in mind when they brought forth a tree from the forest and hung it with symbols of love and life. This tree fits me perfectly.
Regardless of what your holiday traditions are concerning trees, I hope that this year you will take a moment to think about the symbol of the tree and its message of hope that promises new life to come.
And so it is