Sunday, December 30, 2007

Discarded Christmas Trees

Today I saw a discarded Christmas tree – still trimmed with tinsel – lying in the gutter near my house. The Christmas tree is the focal point of the Christmas decorations and once it has served its purpose it is unceremoniously discarded. I don’t know…that fact struck me as a bit sad.

I know that the dumping of the Christmas tree is as much a part of the holiday tradition as carols, shopping, and for many of us – celebrating the birth of Christ. However, today I was reminded of just how short the life expectancy of the Christmas tree really is.

The life cycle of the Christmas tree (once it becomes a full grown tree of course) begins with the searching out and discovery of the perfect evergreen. Each and every year our family piles into the car and makes the extremely short trek to our favorite tree lot. Okay, so it doesn’t have the same romantic appeal as cross country skiing into the wilderness to chop down our own pine tree, but the tree hunt and purchase is a cherished family tradition. This year only two of the three grown children were in on the tree buying, the lot had moved a mile east, and we each drove our own car to the lot (no piling this year), but the sacred tradition lives on.

The Christmas tree is special because it’s branches hold more than lights and glass balls – those branches hold memories. Who doesn’t love the Rudolf ornament made from a light bulb and topped off with pipe cleaner antlers? I own several macaroni snowflakes and tiny red felt Santa hats, and for many, many years those hand made creations adorned each and every Christmas tree that made it into our home. After all, tiny hands lovingly glued those macaroni pieces together and those ornaments are priceless to me! Once the tree is decorated we display the brightly colored packages beneath its branches and on Christmas morning we gather around the evergreen centerpiece and make new memories. Yes, the tree has an important and unique role to play in the holiday spectacle.

As soon as the crinkled paper is ripped of the presents, the sugar cookies are inhaled, and “A Christmas Story” is watched for the 42nd time, the Christmas tree’s importance comes to an end. There’s no place for it to go now…except the gutter. Kinda sad, don’t ya think?

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