Cynthia L. Eppley 12/12/2022
It is that time of year when our minds turn to decorating for Christmas. And if you’re like most of us, you have your preferences.
In viewing social media, I’ve seen many types!
Real vs. Fake
The first big decision is: real vs. artificial (Such a nicer word than fake…).
The real tree implies tromping out into the woods, often with a saw in hand, to find The Perfect Tree. (Reference to the movie, Christmas Vacation.)
Is there ever a perfect tree?
Anticipating a family outing, we go with high hopes and cocoa. Sometimes the dreams materialize; sometimes they don’t.
But then there is the artificial tree. We were forced into getting an artificial tree years ago when I became allergic to the sap.
Once we removed the offensive tree, all my allergies cleared up.
But getting used to the idea of an artificial tree was difficult.
Where would the magic be?
How would we decorate it and would it mean as much?
My mother wisely counseled me: “It’s not the tree. It’s the favorite ornaments and the stories behind each one.”
She was so right.
Full vs. Scrawny
Some go for the full tree, chock full of branches and cones. One can barely fit in an ornament! But full it is.
The scrawny tree may have looked great out in the field.
But upon putting it up, the blank spots are clearly evident.
Often the side that is lacking gets turned into a corner like a naughty child. Adding the ornaments may help the final product.
Bring on the decorations!
These trees often have a Christmas theme, or it may reflect a special interest of the owner. Those who have lost a loved one may decorate a tree to commemorate their memory. Poignant, bittersweet, but memorable.
In my own kitchen, I have a skinny tree that I decorate with our mother’s cookie cutters. It warms my heart as I place each ornament and think of the hours we spent together.
Themed Trees 2
Or some have taken away the old ornaments and selected one overall color scheme. My sister in law decided on a White Christmas tree.
It was a shock to say the least.
But I was quickly won over by white doves, white balls, and bows.
The traditional tree may have white lights. Forget the candles of yesteryear that were beautiful, but a major fire hazard. Battery powered taper lights are fast becoming popular, and often look very real—without the danger.
Bright white, LED, or cool, warm lights? Choices are endless!
Colored lights are popular as well, and often the same tree may have the ability to change from one to the other.
What will they think of next?
Believe it or not, the silver aluminum trees of the 50’s and 60’s are making a comeback! Often decked out in one color scheme, they are beautiful in their own way. Ribbons and bows of sky blue match ornaments that have been carefully selected.
Often, there is a color wheel placed strategically in front of the tree, rotating. The tree picks up on the color and it reflects hues of red, blue, green and yellow.
The green ceramic tree of yesteryear has made a comeback…..or maybe it never left?
I’ve seen them selling for a pretty sum.
Tips of the tree are adorned with plastic lights that glow from an inward light.
These trees are popular because there is no muss or fuss.
Easy to put up and take down.
The Simple Tree
Then there is the simple tree. Often people apologize for its appearance, citing illness, or loss, or depression.
Often they cannot even describe the disinterest in the Season.
One year my mother declared that she wasn’t putting up a tree: “I’m not in the Christmas spirit.”
We had lost my father and my brother. It was a sad time, indeed.
But we brought a table top tree to her, with a handful of decorations.
The tree stands in defiance of the odds, and lifts its branches, even in simple glory. The simplest of trees is a testimony of hope.
The Simplest Tree
One year, we had no money. Our time during the holiday would be spent at our parents’ homes.
With no reason to put up a tree, we improvised, and taped a garland tree to the wall.
It was festive and sweet and simple and enough for us.
The Simplest of All
Finally, the very simplest of trees we call “The Charlie Brown Tree.”
This sad little fellow gets his name from the 1965 animated Television special, “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”
Poor Charlie Brown.
Charlie Brown finds himself depressed despite the onset of the cheerful holiday season. His best efforts are ignored and mocked by his peers when he chooses a real, but puny, Christmas tree.
Charlie Brown despairingly asks,
“Does anyone know what Christmas is all about?”Message
Linus says he does, walks to center stage, asks for a spotlight, recites Luke 2:8-14 and says, “That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.”
The Real Message
You’ve probably watched A Charlie Brown Christmas dozens of times….But there’s a poignant moment that you may have missed.
Watch closely as Linus is giving his speech about the true meaning of Christmas. As he says, “And the angel said unto them ‘fear not,’ for behold, I bring you tidings of great joy….”
At the moment he says “Fear not” — he drops his security blanket for the first time—because he’s no longer afraid.
Amid big, bright, colorful, shiny artificial trees, Charlie Brown chose the least of these, a little, wooden tree with just a few branches. Shortly thereafter, Linus uses his blanket to wrap about the base of the tree and says, “Maybe it just needs a little love”. In that moment, the tree “awakens,” stands tall and firm. A reminder that no matter who we are, how many mistakes we’ve made, a “little love” can make all the difference.
(Borrowed from Charlene M. Speer & Christian Life Ministry … Michael Pesina)
O Christmas Tree
So in our scurry to put up the Christmas tree, and decorate it, perhaps the real meaning of the season is not in baubles and bows, frills and flounces.
Whether our tree is real or fake, beautifully adorned, or the simplest of trees: the message of the tree is not in the tree itself.
Where can we lay down our insecurities and frailties? What do we cling to for meaning?
Where can we look to the simple manger and “fear not?”
The message of the tree is from the simplest of shepherds, to the wisest one: we can each do our part.
What can I give Him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb; If I were a Wise Man, I would do my part; Yet what I can I give Him: give my heart.