When I was little, I thought our Christmas tree was the most beautiful thing I ever saw. I would just gaze at the shimmer and light. It had garlands of silver and gold tinsel, lights that looked like icicles, metal flowers, snowflakes, little churches, musical instruments… and a lighted tinsel star on the top. I never thought about it being fake; it was way too exciting. When my Nana got a tree made entirely of silver tinsel, I thought it looked so pretty at night with its blinking multi-colored lights. It was so futuristic looking.
When I got older, we stopped putting it up and I didn’t bother until I had kids. I don’t know if they were as besotted as I was, our tree wasn’t quite as over the top as the one I had as a kid. I had more of a woodland theme. But we had a train to go around ours, an O gauge version of the Polar Express.
That’s when the thinking started. The supposed reason for never having a real tree had been my allergies. A lot of inconvenient things got pinned on that. But every year I would look at it and my inner voice would always say, “why do you have that plastic thing that looks like a tree with stuff stuck all over it in your living room?” Sometimes I would imagine explaining the whole thing to a visiting alien and realizing none of it made sense. “Yeah, well, it represents a tree.” The solution, I was sure, was a real tree. To be really real you would have to chop it down on Christmas Eve and decorate it with real candles, but that seemed like a fire hazard even I wasn’t willing to go for. And we don’t live in a forest. So there it was, the real tree. It took a few days for my inner voice to gather its wits. “Why did you allow a perfectly happy tree, living its perfectly happy tree life in the forest where it belongs, to be cut down, put up in your living room and covered in all this ridiculous ornamentation so that it can slowly die before being tossed to the curb.” What? The voice worked this point until the whole thing was over. Fine, I’ll get a potted pine and then plant it after Christmas where it can grow and be admired for years to come. It took the Voice a little longer this time. I thought Ha! Never mock the Voice. “So you’ve brought this dear tree into your home and hung ornaments all over it? Yes, it’s true you are feeding it and using spring water, but how would you feel if I put you outside for a month and stuck stuff all over you? Hmmm? You no more belong outside than this poor tree belongs inside.” Do you have nothing positive to say? She hasn’t said anything about the snow globes or the nutcrackers yet. Maybe they’re safe. A German feather tree maybe? A fallen branch?
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