The Christmas tree has always been a beautiful symbol to me, something to look forward to and to delight in. But I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed it as much as I have this year.
For one thing, I decided to go simple this year with Christmas decorating. Rather than spread them throughout the house, I contained them in one room — which I then dubbed “The Christmas room.” In this way I’ve been able to capture the spirit and feeling of Christmas without creating an exorbitant amount of work when it’s time to put everything away.
The most logical room for this seemed my office — a place where a Christmas tree could easily fit, and where I could spend time adding special touches and savoring what I have always particularly loved. I’m also the night owl of the family, and since this is where I spend the majority of my night-time sessions, it felt right.
Around this time last year, my office was just being put together. I didn’t know it then, but my father would die soon, and during the aftermath of his death, my office would offer safe harbor for me, a place to rest and heal surrounded by the comfort of books (a passion I shared with my father), an electric fireplace to warm my feet and a comfy couch on which to sit and ruminate, read and write.
I didn’t know that I’d need that healing so much now, but as much as I tried to avoid the pre-Christmas rush, it happened anyway. It just does. The preparations need to happen in order to set things up for the memorable, meaningful times with family that Christmas does best. We women in particular take this on as a gift for others, but it can make for some weary moments, too.
So in my exhausted state, I’ve slept by the glow of this tree for the past several nights, letting myself be lulled under by its gentle beauty. The tree has put me in an absolutely peaceful state at the end of some of the most frenzied of days, calming my heart, sending healing vibes. It has been pure bliss.
There’s talk from the secular world that we Christians have stolen this pagan tradition, and how dare we claim it as a religious symbol. It reminds me of younger years when, as a little sister, I would copy my older sister on things she liked, and naturally she would get a little miffed, but I couldn’t understand why she failed to see I was copying her because I loved her ideas. Shouldn’t she feel, instead, pleased?
To me, the Christmas tree is most certainly a religious symbol, and a symbol always represents something larger, deeper than what you see on the surface. If we were to worship the Christmas tree, that would be wrong. But that’s not what’s going on here. Certainly not in my heart.
What’s going on is that each ornament has meaning. Some are handmade by our kids. Some were given by friends. Some were on my grandmother’s tree years ago, and she gave them to me to use for my own tree, like the one below, one of my favorites. Each is beautiful in its own way, a fleeting reminder of Christmases past and all that are to come; and in that way, also representative of the life we’ve lived so far and what’s around the bend.
To me, the Christmas tree means family, love, beauty, peace, and the hope Christ offers and comes to remind us of and lead us toward. That’s not pagan, it is promise – something to live by, sleep near and die to self to have.
A very merry Christmas to you and yours!
What does the Christmas tree evoke for you?