Traditions and What They Mean

What is a Christmas Tree?

What is a Christmas Tree? It’s a memory tree, a tree full of time and places, people, pets, events, different homes (remember your first apartment?), relationships, births and deaths. In the glow of the Christmas tree lights, I am reminded of how many places I have been and the experiences I have had (good, bad or ugly) it doesn’t matter. I get one more day on this sweet earth to get it right. I like to keep the memories on the tree. My collection of ornaments spans decades. My most loved one is an abstract sparkle design on a rounded piece of faded red construction paper. I keep this ornament hidden away, but it does go up every year. My daughter made it when she was about six. Even then her affinity for glamour and all things beautiful was evident. Which always makes me smile. My mother (in law) made the most luxe christmas ornaments decked out in velvet, lace, sequins, pearls and glitter. Some of them look like the russian sputnik spaceships from the early sixties. My tastes run towards traditional glass ornaments from Poland or Germany, but, to tell you the truth I like the mix of my taste and everybody else’s.

When I look at a Christmas Tree, I am looking at a family history. Not only a family history, a history of friends. I have hand-made ornaments from friends and some are store-bought. Doesn’t matter, when I put them on the tree, I think of my friends. I see stories in these ornaments. I have one favorite ornament which is at least 47 years old. It is a green colored glass ornament with an elongated rounded diamond shape popular in the 1950s and 1960s. Long ago it sustained a melt mark from being too close to a string of those old-fashioned colorful christmas lights (the kind that don’t blink, but just glow). When I was a kid I used to think maybe this ornament just wanted to get close to those beautiful christmas lights. It always gets an honored spot on the front of the tree.

If you ever wanted to trace your family tree, you might want to start with the ornaments on your tree. “(hey, where’d that come from? Oh, yeah, that was the time we went to…)” These are perfect testaments to a time and place. It’s a way to honor the wonderful imperfections of being human just like that perfect but flawed christmas green diamond-shaped ornament. Keep the memories lit.