O Christmas Tree

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20111220-102228.jpgI Christmas Tree, how I love you after all.

Everyone is most likely familiar with the old German folk-song, “O Christmas Tree”. Here are the lyrics in case you’ve forgotten.
O Christmas Tree, O Christmas tree,
How lovely are your branches!
In beauty green will always grow
Through summer sun and winter snow.
O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree,
How lovely are your branches!

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas tree,
You are the tree most loved!
How often you give us delight
In brightly shining Christmas light!
O Christmas Tree, O Christmas tree,
You are the tree most loved!

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas tree,
Your beauty green will teach me
That hope and love will ever be
The way to joy and peace for me.
O Christmas Tree, O Christmas tree,
Your beauty green will teach me.

I used to be confused by this song and wondered why we would sing about a tree. This year, I finally understand. For the past few years, our family has made it a family tradition to go out and pick a real tree from the local nursery for our Christmas tree. After much deliberation we finally pick one that everyone is happy with. We’ve had a white pine that is soft enough to use as a blanket but the ornaments slip right off, one year we bought a scotch pine which needles were so sharp we practically had to throw our ornaments at in order to avoid being stabbed; that was a less than pleasant tree-decoration experience. Then last year we went with a Frasier and we fell in love. We love their round full shape, their strong branches ready to hold up all our ornaments, and especially their pointed yet gentle needles.

Getting our tree up proves to be quite a lot of work and every year we always run into some snag that makes the veins in my husband’s forehead pop out followed by a promise that this will be the last year we ever buy a real tree! This year, we really got smart and remembered to bring the tree stand to make sure the trunk would fit through before leaving the nursery since my husband’s small tool collection does not include a saw. After we finally got the tree up we decided we should write a note of step-by-step instructions for ourselves for next year’s Christmas-tree assembly. Hopefully we’ll remember where we put the note.

I’m ashamed to say that our bare tree stood in our living room with only the three ornaments the kids picked out as gifts from the tree nursery for more than a week. Its sweet smell would beckon us, “clothe me! I’m naked without more ornaments!” But it was one thing after another and it wasn’t until a week later that everyone in our family was available to decorate our tree together. I could have decorated it on my own during the week but that wouldn’t have been very fun. Finally, after only a few tears, our tree was finally adorned!

Later that night, after the older two were in bed, my husband and I sat on the couch while I nursed the little one. I sat there and thought about how Advent is supposed to be a season of quiet reflection and peaceful preparation for Christ but it is usually quite the opposite. It’s difficult to find quiet and peace with all the many gifts to buy and goodies to bake and bathrooms to clean and cards to send out and parties to attend. But as we sat there on the couch in silence with the glow from the tree as our only light, a funny thing happened. I felt…peaceful and calm. I looked at the tree and took in its full beauty. My eyes scanned all the ornaments hanging from its branches; each of the kids and my husband’s Hallmark collections plus all of mine from when I was a child up to the current year, a tradition my mom helped us begin and maintain. This year we had also found a bag full of “old” ornaments from my mom and dad’s childhoods that I remembered putting on our family tree as a girl.

Suddenly this wasn’t just any old Christmas tree or some obligatory Christmas tradition anymore. This was our tree. It was full of our family’s memories and heritage not just from today but from generations past. Here, in our tree, those memories were brought back and given life again. It had taken a lot of work to get the tree and get it all assembled and finally decorated. I am thankful now that I’ll have a place of peace to escape to when I don’t feel like writing out one more Christmas card or baking one last batch of cookies or running out to the store for more tape or for one last present. It might just be a tree, but this year, I have found true meaning in its symbol of hope and everlasting life in Christ.

Copyright 2011 Erika Higgins

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About Author

Erika Marie is a simple Catholic, Wife, and Mama. She relishes snuggles and free time with her family and enjoys reading, writing, blogging, and has a slightly obsessive addiction to creating Canva graphics.
Enjoy more reflections by Erika at her personal simplemama blog.

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