Holiday Tree Versus Christmas Tree

22 12 2011

Over and over again, I hear, “It’s not a HOLIDAY tree, it is a CHRISTmas tree.” Where is there a Christmas tree in the Bible? If you have a tree up, you’ve already bought into a secular Christmas. If you buy presents for those who have no need of even one more gift, you’ve bought into a secular Christmas. If you bought a magnet that said, “Keep Christ in Christmas”, you’ve bought into a secular Christmas. I always find “what would Jesus think” a good rule. I often imagine Christ shaking his head when he hears such things, saying, “They do not know me.” I doubt He would even want to have a day of His own where we celebrate His birthday. When I read the Gospels, what I take from them is that we are to be walking the path of Christ every day, not just one day a year. We are to model His example of feeding and clothing the poor, ministering to the sick, being compassionate, being at peace, not making war, forgiving others, etc. If you think writing a check or buying a gift for someone less fortunate meets your obligation for making Christmas about Christ, you would be wrong. Christ would never phone it in. If you are yelling about putting “Christ” in Christmas, how are you spending the rest of the days of the year? Are you focused on things about yourself instead of others?

If only it were this easy to just put a magnet on your car and be done with any other obligations.

Is it wrong to participate in Christmas then if you participate in both the secular and Christian aspects of it? No. Just stop being a hypocrite about it.  While decorating evergreen trees was popular in the 15th century, Christmas trees did not start catching on until the 19th century with the first US trees occurring anywhere from 1777 to 1816 depending on which claim you believe had the “first” tree in America.  The custom is only a few hundred years old.  Christ died 2011 years ago.  Historians will tell you based on the star in the night’s sky, the Star of Bethlehem, Christ was actually born sometime in June.  Does it matter that Christians decided on a date close to Pagan holidays such as Winter Solstice to celebrate Christ’s birth so they could be converted?  No, it does not.  Because Christ would not care.  He would care more about how you are living your life based on his life.  When you are focused on what people call the name of a tree that does not matter, that is part of a secular Christmas, you’ve missed His message.

If you truly want to keep the Christ in Christmas, perhaps this is a better road map for spending your Christmas season instead of arguing about a name of a tree:

1. Take time to be alone and ponder your relationship with Christ, not only at Christmas, but the relationship you have every day.

2. Read the story of Jesus’ birth and note how people responded, Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, Simeon and Anna. Remember that every other day of the year as well.

3. Praise God at Christmas and join others in celebrations of music and praise. Continue this tradition every week of the rest of the year.

4. Help those in need every day. Follow the example of Jesus whose heart was filled with compassion for those who were suffering.

5. Keep your “to do” list as short as possible. Limit your social obligations so there is time for reflection.

6. Use cash when you buy gifts to avoid holiday debt. Invite your relatives to support a charity instead of giving you or your family a gift.

7. Tell others about our Savior.

8. Remember Christ’s church (not a particular religion) around the world. Some are enduring great hardships.

9. Live like Christ every day. Be compassionate, forgiving (especially in mall parking lots, SCHOOL ZONES, harassed sales staff, other people being rude and un-Christ-like). Be sensitive to the people in your own life.

10. Be joyful.





Memory Tree

18 12 2011

I look forward to putting up our Christmas tree every year for two reasons. The first reason is knowing Patrick is going to love it. There is something about the twinkling of each delicate light and moving to and fro that allows him to appreciate the full spectrum of colors in a way I wish I could see. For Jeff and me, it is a yearly trip down memory lane. Our tradition is to put up our tree the Saturday or Sunday after Thanksgiving. Two years ago, Patrick was in his bedroom at the time. When he came into the room the next morning, the smile that crept up on his face was brighter than any star in the sky. My Christmas contentment lay within that smile. Last year he became the task-master, voicing his protest if we stopped at all to take a break. We would deliberately rest just to bust his chops and listen to him protest. This year he mellowed out, eagerly watching the lights go up, but still loving every bit. He is not quite ready to put the ornaments on the tree. We have tried. I think he does not like the feel of the artificial tree.

Every ornament I can trace back to a loving memory. After my mother died, of all the items left to me, the six ornaments that date back to my childhood hold the most significance. Being the dysfunctional home it was, our holidays then were filled with a mixture of happiness and heartache. However, when I look at these ornaments, I choose to remember the joy. They are old and falling apart. I do not know how much longer I will be able to repair them.

Ornament from my childhood

The tennis racquet ornament brings to my mind memories of my first love and the Christmas we spent together here in Houston.

Tennis racquet I bought for my first love.

There is the Santa & Mrs. Claus sleeping in a bed, handmade by a physician’s assistant with whom I worked; Mrs. Claus’ head is now missing.

Mr. Claus sleeps with a headless Ms. Claus.

There are the many ornaments I gathered in the first days of my first apartment. I found a wonderful company called Cracker Box who makes kits for these homemade ornaments with beads and lace and pins. For two years, one each year, I made these works of art. Their instructions were hysterical, injecting the personality of those who wrote them.

Those pins hurt putting in after awhile.

Before getting married I joined a Disney ornament-of-the-month club. There is Minnie, Mickey, Pinocchio, Donald Duck, and several others from that period of my life. Pinocchio’s nose has broken off.

Pinocchio's nose fell off.

Received as a wedding gift is a Lenox ornament of 2 doves kissing and labeled as “first Christmas.”

We moved on to our Star Trek ornament collectible obsession.

Picard stands watch of the Enterprise (the original) below.

It was then we began our golden retriever ornament collection.

Golden retrievers are now our obsession.

After Patrick was born, we added a “Baby’s First Christmas” ornament. Three ornaments are a result of my trip to Disneyworld in Florida in the late 1990’s with some friends. I have an ornament or two from an overnight trip to Kemah, Texas. During our 2001 trip to Vancouver, BC, I picked up an awesome golden retriever ornament on skis and with goggles on from a store in Whistler (where the 2010 Winter Olympics were held).

From Whistler, BC to our home.

I remember each ornament given to us as a gift and by whom. I think of those people with affection as we are hanging them.  Adorning our tree, too, are the handmade ornaments Patrick has made since he was a toddler.

Two years ago, MGM put out a Stargate SG-1 ornament (that I got half-price the bargain shopper I am). I was gravely disappointed to find our local Carlton Cards went out of business.

Stargate SG-1

Once done, we sit back and marvel at our memory tree, a symbolic diary of our lives.

What are your Christmas tree traditions?





The Memory Tree

12 12 2010

I look forward to putting up our Christmas tree every year for two reasons. The first reason is knowing Patrick is going to love it. There is something about the twinkling of each delicate light and moving to and fro that allows him to appreciate the full spectrum of colors in a way I wish I could see. For Jeff and me, it is a yearly trip down memory lane. Our tradition is to put up our tree the Saturday or Sunday after Thanksgiving. Last year, Patrick was in his bedroom at the time. When he came into the room the next morning, the smile that crept up on his face was brighter than any star in the sky. My Christmas contentment lay within that smile. This year he became the task-master, voicing his protest if we stopped at all to take a break. We would deliberately rest just to bust his chops and listen to him protest.

Every ornament I can trace back to a loving memory. After my mother died, of all the items left to me, the six ornaments that date back to my childhood hold the most significance. Being the dysfunctional home it was, our holidays then were filled with a mixture of happiness and heartache. However, when I look at these ornaments, I choose to remember the joy. They are old and falling apart. I do not know how much longer I will be able to repair them.

The tennis racquet ornament brings to my mind memories of my first love and the Christmas we spent together here in Houston. There is the Santa & Mrs. Claus sleeping in a bed, handmade by a physician’s assistant with whom I worked; Mrs. Claus’ head is now missing.

There are the many ornaments I gathered in the first days of my first apartment. I found a wonderful company called Cracker Box who makes kits for these homemade ornaments with beads and lace and pins. For two years, one each year, I made these works of art. Their instructions were hysterical, injecting the personality of those who wrote them.

Before getting married I joined a Disney ornament-of-the-month club. There is Minnie, Mickey, Pinocchio, Donald Duck, and several others from that period of my life. Pinocchio’s nose has broken off. Received as a wedding gift is a Lenox ornament of 2 doves kissing and labeled as “first Christmas.”

We moved on to our Star Trek ornament collectible obsession. It was then we began our golden retriever ornament collection. After Patrick was born, we added a “Baby’s First Christmas” ornament. Three ornaments are a result of my trip to Disneyworld in Florida in the late 1990’s with some friends. I have an ornament or two from an overnight trip to Kemah, Texas. During our 2001 trip to Vancouver, BC, I picked up an awesome golden retriever ornament on skis and with goggles on from a store in Whistler (where the 2010 Winter Olympics were held).

I remember each ornament given to us as a gift and by whom. I think of those people with affection as we are hanging them.

Adorning our tree, too, are the handmade ornaments Patrick has made since he was a toddler.

Last year, MGM put out a Stargate SG-1 ornament (that I got half-price the bargain shopper I am). I was gravely disappointed to find our local Carlton Cards went out of business as I checked for this year’s prospective Stargate ornament.

Once done, we sit back and marvel at our memory tree, a symbolic diary of our lives.

The symbolic diary of our lives

What do you do with your tree? Do you have a theme? Fresh or artificial? Clear lights or multicolored lights? Blinking or steady?