We finally put our 16-year-old tree to rest this Christmas season. I bought this six-foot tree when my eldest daughter was still little and my youngest wasn’t even born yet. It had seen us through good Christmases and not so good ones, too. The Christmas before last, I broached the topic with my girls of finally buying a new one, but both of them shot down the idea.
“But I’ve never known any other Christmas tree! Don’t get rid of it!” my youngest wailed.
The thing is, the tree had kind of shrunk. Or maybe it was the girls who got bigger? Every Christmas Eve, we used to ask them to put the Angel on top of the tree before we set off to Christmas Eve Mass. The youngest needed a ladder to reach the top but I was looking at her—all five feet, three inches of her, thinking, this year, she’s not going to need one anymore. So as much as it hurt, I put the old tree away and bought a new one. This new one is eight feet tall. She’s still going to need a ladder to reach the top now. The ceremonial angel tree-topper is also gone. Not because we retired her but because she fell and broke.
Every year, we decorate the tree in an informal family ceremony. I make hot chocolate with tablea and play Christmas carols while we take turns putting the décor on the tree. Even if the ornaments are the same, ornaments that have been on my childhood family Christmas tree ever since I can remember, the tree never looks the same. I’ve bought a few new ones over the years but the old, familiar have stayed. Like friends whom I see once a year and remind me of my childhood. My mom used to join us every year to decorate, she used to help hang the ornaments and then later on she’d sit down and just watch. This year, she can’t go out of the house anymore and so that’s one new change in our traditions that is not very welcome.
Going back to the tree, however, I’ve never subscribed to the new fads in tree decorating. When putting poinsettias and ribbons on the trees became popular, I did not decorate ours with the trendy decor. In fact, I still use tinsel on my tree and who, who uses tinsel these days? That’s how much I like sticking to our family traditions.
I guess what I’m driving at here is that yes, change is fine. The new tree looks awesome and fresh not tired and old like our previous tree was beginning to look like but what is familiar is also extremely comforting. I’d like my kids to have something that they know will happen every year with the freedom to change it, if they want. There’s comfort in tradition precisely because it’s familiar, activities and artifacts they can always come back to and remember as something our family has done or has brought out every year. I would like them to develop their own family traditions when they have their own families someday just like I did when I had mine.
Just don’t expect any poinsettias or ribbons on our family Christmas tree anytime soon.
Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author in her private capacity and do not in any way represent the views of Preen.ph, or any other entity of the Inquirer Group of Companies.