O Christmas tree, o Christmas tree
How loyal are your leaves
My dear friend Christie who lives in Florida once shared that during hurricane evacuations she packs her photos and her shoes. I would for sure take photos, along with important documents, but I would also take something else that’s very dear to me: Christmas ornaments.
Acquired from throughout my life, the ornaments include an old spool “Santa” from my childhood to expensive keepsakes to handmade gems from a young Kristen. The collection also includes memorable ones from nearly every trip I’ve taken and every place I’ve visited, ranging from Austria to Austin. Taking them out one by one reminds me of so much and reminds me that they are all, regardless of style or cost, priceless heirlooms. Our tree is never one of those color-coordinated, picture-perfect “Southern Living” cover trees. It is a hodge-podge of memories…and it’s always a real tree.
Thankfully both Smitty and I grew up with real Christmas trees so a fake one is out of the question for our family. Back in Santa Fe, we always had a Blue Spruce. I can smell it as I write this. We decorated it with those old-fashioned colored lights and tons of icicles…and I mean tons…put on one at a time and draped just so over individual needles.
Although I don’t use icicles today, I do have a sentimental package of them that I keep with my Christmas stuff. And, instead of those old-school colored bulbs, which are now nearly impossible to find, I use all white lights. Thankfully I do have some of those colored bulbs from my mom and I put them all in a big glass bowl and sprinkle “snow” among them. Looking at them make me smile
But why the trees? Do you even know why we have them?
Many believe the custom began many moons ago when St. Boniface, who was a priest from England, traveled to Germany to convert the pagans. He found some success, but many still worshiped what they considered a sacred oak. Boniface went into the forest and cut down an evergreen and took it into town. He then cut down their sacred oak, which infuriated them, but he showed them that unlike the oak that lost its leaves every year, the evergreen did not lose its leaves. This, he said, is much like the life Jesus offers us: never ending and always there.
Today we purchase trees from tree lots and big lot stores. Some of us go to tree farms and actually cut one down. I have never done this but have always wanted to. It takes a long time for those trees to grow and did you know they are trimmed once-a-year so their branches make the triangle shape we all love? After about eight years of growing in a farm or forest, trees are selected for their new homes: yours and mine!
Even though I love real Christmas trees, one other kind that I’m not ashamed to admit I like are those gaudy aluminum ones. They are so much fun and remind me of childhood neighbors who always had one.
I love Christmas trees. I love a room where the only lighting is the tree. They are magical. This week in my preschool class, I talked all about Christmas trees and read the kids one of my favorite Christmas books, “The Night Tree.”
What kind of tree do you have? Do you have any special memories or special ornaments? Please share!
A Christmas Tree Glossary
Courtesy Martha Stewart Living
Douglas Fir – One of the most common holiday trees, it boasts firm branches and soft needles that emit a fragrance when crushed. It is also one of the lighter weight trees, making it easy to transport.
Noble Fir – Sturdy branches make this Pacific Northwest native a good choice if you have a lot of and/or heavy ornaments. The tree’s straight and strong limbs give it a full, rounded appearance.
Fraser Fir – A pair of slivery stripes on the underside of each needle distinguishes this aromatic tree from the nearly identical Balsam Fir. It has strong, upturned branches that are ideal for holding ornaments. The Balsam Fir’s needles are deep green and the tree has a pyramid shape and slender top.
The sweet-scented Concolor Fir is tall and narrow with loosely spaced, bluish needles that are great for showcasing ornaments. It is sometimes called a White Fir. Nordmann Firs are the preferred Christmas trees in Europe and are becoming increasingly popular in the U.S. They are prized for their fat pyramid shape and lush, dark green foliage.
White Pine – This large, blue-green tree is often sheared to have a narrow silhouette, making it popular for small areas. Its limbs are very dense though, which can tend to obscure ornaments.
Carolina Sapphire Cypress – This southern dweller is naturally broad and has a strong lemon and mint scent. Like the Blue Ice Cypress, its branches can support small lights, tinsel and a few ornaments, but if you’re looking for a tree that can hold much and/or heavy adornment, these are not the trees for you. The Leyland Cypress is the most popular tree in the Southeast. They can be tall or fat and need to be watered several times a day.
Blue Spruce – A popular Christmas tree because of its symmetrical form and attractive blue foliage, this state tree of both Colorado and Utah also boasts great needle retention and a narrow, pyramid shape.
Blessing of the Christmas Tree
God of all creation, we praise you for this tree that brings beauty and memories and the promise of life to our home. May your blessing be upon all who gather around this tree, all who keep the Christmas festival by its light. Amen.