Why This Simple Hippie Will Always Own a Christmas Tree

It is the countdown to Christmas and I couldn’t be more excited. Honestly, I’m like a kid sometimes. I love everything about this season, lights that shimmer off tinsel, trees adorned in holiday attire, cocoa capped with mounds of marshmallows. I love the shy, excited faces of children as they stand in line to see Santa, the joy of someone buying a gift, the get-togethers with family. There’s almost nothing I don’t like.

Almost. Because this year, for the first time, I struggled with decorating my home. My husband and I purged much of what we owned, including most of our holiday decorations, some broken, some just very, very old, and what is left fits in one small box we can fit in the corner of a closet. That, and one tall, artificial, pre-lit Christmas tree.

I’ve never been much into holiday decorating. True, I’d owned a few wreaths, always had a tree, set candy canes out, and even made gingerbread houses. Never an extreme amount of holiday glitz. But this year, I didn’t want anything to do with decorating. Not one single thing.

We weren’t having Christmas at our house. It was only my husband and myself. And our home was as simple and clean as I liked it. Besides, if I set up a tree, and filled our home with decorations, wouldn’t that be hypocritical as a simple hippie? What would that be saying about who I really am?

Yet, it was Christmas. And I love Christmas. And in my heart, I knew I needed a few pieces to remind of why I loved this season.

I pulled out the box, emptied the few contents on the bed: a tiny elf, two white trees, a candle, a framed picture, a fluffy little owl, and two glittery glass balls. Each item, something I cherished, and for whatever reason, held meaning for me. I placed the pieces around our home. Everything except the artificial tree.

We wouldn’t be needing a tree this year. We weren’t hosting Christmas, and truth is, I didn’t want to mess with it. In fact, I was struggling with whether or not to give it to the thrift store when I received a call.

My son and daughter-in-law, who were to have Christmas dinner this year, ran into some unexpected circumstances. Would I be willing to do it?

I didn’t hesitate. Willing? Yes! I was ecstatic. This was the year our whole family would be together. I loved cooking for them, couldn’t wait for the laughter and chatter to fill our house, for voices of little children giggling in the background.

I thought about the children as I looked our home. Our quiet, clean, simple home, a home that didn’t look much different now than any other day of the year. A home that certainly didn’t look like Christmas.

I wondered what they’d think when they bounded through the door. I wondered what they’d see that Christmas morning. Would they know it was Christmas? Would they see twinkling lights and holiday decorations? Would they hear the soft music in the background?

I thought how important it was to a child, how senses are so significant, how every little sight and sound, and every smell will bring a memory to them, how every sense indicates something exciting is about to happen. Is that what they’d see when they entered our home?

No glamor. No glitz. No twinkling lights. No Christmas tree.

I fought with myself. I didn’t want to be a hypocrite, but neither did I want to disappoint my family, or little children.

The next day, my husband pulled the tree out of the garage and placed in on the living room floor for me to set-up. But I couldn’t do it. I dragged it back to the garage.

It was then that the true meaning of that green plastic tree hit me. Christmas wasn’t about the tree, the lights, the gifts, the glitter and glitz. And Christmas certainly wasn’t about me.

Later, I had my husband pull the tree back in the house. I watched as he put it together. When he was done, I draped thin silver garland on the branches that glittered against the white lights.

I vaguely recalled when my husband and I bought the tree, though I couldn’t say what year it was. It, like many of my memories, has been washed away by my brain injury. Yet the part that remains is a husband who shopped with me to find a tree that would fit our home, to replace the real ones I could no longer be around. A tree bought together to celebrate a season we love.

I will always have a tree. It is more than fake branches in our home. It is a symbol of life, celebration, and One True Gift we’ve been given. It is a reminder that Christmas is not about me. It is family. It is memories made, and memories yet to come. And sometimes those memories rest inside the green plastic branches of an artificial tree.

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