My Christmas Tree is up.
This has never happened. I am a strict “after Thanksgiving only” rule follower when it comes to Christmas trees and Christmas music. But this is not a normal year and those rules do not serve me in our current situation.
My tree is up.
I’m playing a healthy dose of Christmas songs on repeat.
I’m not making any apologies. In fact, I recommend it.
I am enjoying quiet moments with only the lights of the Christmas Tree – its soft glow brings me joy. As the days are shorter and night has set in before I arrive home from work, the warm light is a welcome comfort.
I had some vague idea that Christmas Trees as we know them originated in Germany, but the symbolism of evergreens in winter dates back to ancient Egypt and Rome. Many cultures believed that hanging evergreen boughs in your home protected you from evil spirits and illness. The ability to remain green while all else has gone dormant represents the triumph of life over death. This continuity of life was reassuring then, as it is now.
So maybe I’m not such a genius after all for having my tree and fresh wreaths up early. If we ever needed such symbols of life and wellness, this is the year. I will allow myself the gift of more quiet mornings by the tree. Evenings with a good book by that same light seem to be in order as well. This is not a suggestion to rush right past Thanksgiving, but rather to intentionally create the warmth and joy that comes as we enter into this winter season. Thanksgiving will be a day of gratitude as it always has been, though it will look and feel different this year.
The joy of the tree and all of the wonderful memories associated with it are a comfort as we face winter – one of deep introspection and fewer distractions. The shimmer of the lights takes me back to my Aunt Vivian’s beautiful tree with real candles balanced ever so gently on the branches. Their flickering flames dancing on the Dining Room walls as we joined together for our Christmas meal full of Southern home-cooked food, spirited conversation and laughter. Now almost all of those beloved family members are gone. I am grateful that every so often, the light catches just right and takes me back to that crowded dining table of my childhood.
Other moments I remember the Christmases past when my children were completely enthralled with the lights and the pure excitement of it all – the letters to Santa with a plate of cookies and carrots (for the reindeer) carefully placed beside the tree. A magical time that still fills my heart with gratitude – I said then, and still firmly believe now, that one of the greatest gifts of parenthood is seeing Christmas through your children’s eyes.
Whatever your memories, some joyful, perhaps some tinged with sorrow; may they bring you peace this winter. This extended Christmas season I will soak in the beauty of the tree, the simple pleasure of quiet moments with only its light in the dark and quiet house. And the reminder that there is hope in this world as long as there is light. I decided to bring the twinkling lights of the Christmas Tree in a little earlier this year, I am so glad I did.