Huntin’ the elusive Christmas Tree

Got around to putting a Christmas tree up, finally…it only took me a few years.

Yep, it’s been ages since I put up any Christmas decorations.  It was probably the year before I last took a holiday trip to Tennessee to see the family.  Uh, and that’s probably why I stopped…

Between work, money or vehicles, the past few years have made it impossible to travel the promised land at all.  And, most of them have been spent holding out till the last minute hoping that the trip will suddenly be miraculously possible.  But, this year, I found myself in an impossible position.  Still not totally in the mood, but I made an attempt at Christmas cheer.  It put up the tree.

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What I found was that my kids really didn’t have a care either way.  Putting up the tree was more a nuisance than anything else to them  I and the wife found that shocking.  Then, I realized it was all my fault.

Let me explain…

As far back as I could remember, Christmas was always a special time.  As the pastor said Sunday, the smells, the sounds, the chill in the air always set the stage for a great holiday season.  But the thing that made the time special was certain family traditions.

And, of all the traditions of Christmas, the greatest of that of the Christmas Tree.

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The oldest memory I have of Christmas is a certain trip we took to the ridge over Spring City, Tennessee where my father’s parents lived.  Now, we always went up over Christmas or Christmas Eve, but this was a pre-Christmas trip.  We went with one goal in mind.  Leaving the warmth of my grandparents home (oh, wood stove heaters!  YES!), we trudged up the hill just east of there and through a bit of woods on the search for the elusive fir tree.

Now, at the time, I was just on an adventure.  The pure excitement of weaving through the trees on the hill was enough at my young age. I think I was probably under 10 at the time and there were hundreds of trees there.  What my father was looking for in this tree was beyond me at this point.  I figured any of those trees would do.  But he was in search of what must be the most elusive of creatures, for he took his time and inspected a good many trees before choosing the right one.

He, then, took his ax to it; chopping it down to take home.  Now , this was before any concern about the health and welfare of the tree.  And, even to this day, I would still be the demise to a real tree if it were convenient to me.  For, I fear that, if I had to hunt my tree down in the cold and cut it down myself these days, I would probably do without.  In other words, if it weren’t for the fact that the tree was in a box in the garage, I may not have taken the time to open Christmas with a tree.

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Sad, now that I think of it, how family traditions fall by the wayside far too often in this day and age.  The time and care my father took to set the tone for holiday (although he was never really raised in a powerful Christmas tradition himself) is something not replicated on my end.  If we are honest, it’s something that is pushed aside in the rush of the season by way too many families.

And, not just Christmas, I bet.  Whatever family traditions we can speak of on any time of year becomes, all too often, lost as the generations pass.  And THAT is the reason of the reaction of my sons.  We did not make it important in the past, so they will struggle to find there own traditions with their families in the future.  They will also have to struggle with whether it is important to do the traditional things in the future.

However that pans out, we have lost a bit of something from the texture of our families; chipping away at the foundations that made our families strong and grew us into the people we are today.  For my part in that, I’m sorry.

But, this year, I’m trying to make up for that.  It may not be a Tennessee Fir, but it does bring a bit of Christmas home and, with it, a bit of Tennessee’s past.

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