Saturday, November 28, 2009

Oh Christmas tree, Oh Christmas tree . . .

Or not.

I have never had a Christmas tree at Christmas. Not once in my entire life.  Our family didn't put up Christmas trees.  My parents held the belief that trees and all the other Christmas "paraphernalia" were pagan and as Christians, we should not be involved in those things.  My parents also strongly believed that the purpose of Christmas was not the gifts but to celebrate the birth of Christ.  So even if we would have had a tree, there would have been very few gifts under it.

Now, my parents and I don't hold similar world views.  In fact, our world views are vastly different except that we kind of agreed on the Christmas tree thing and the gift giving thing.    But I'd be lying if I said that as a child I didn't long for a beautifully decorated Christmas tree with lots of gifts under the tree.  I wanted that so deeply every Christmas but as I got older and learned a lot more on my own, I became genuinely uncomfortable with all the Christmas "stuff" and when I left Christianity, I took a huge step back from the whole holiday.

But the other day Z1 asked if we were going to have a tree.  He said he wanted to decorate it. The hubby tried to explain that we don't do trees but I felt torn (even though I went along with the hubby).  What's really the harm in having a tree and decorating it?  It may have had pagan origins but now that I know paganism is not devil worship, so what? Who can deny that they are beautiful and fun to decorate?  My opinion on gift giving hasn't really changed all that much.  I wouldn't want to go out and spend a whole lot of money buying things for Christmas.  I think that misses the point, the spirit of Christmas.  But I could see making homemade gifts for each other and close family members as the kids get older because I definitely recognize the value in gift giving and generosity.  And as a knitter and crocheter, I especially see the value in sharing the fruit of one's labor, the product of one's creativity with loved ones.

The frugal me would, of course, purchase an artificial one that we could pull out year after year.  It would be small enough to fit on the kitchen table.  

I could actually have written a similar post at Halloween because the same issues came up.  I didn't dress up or trick-or-treat as a child and I often felt left out.  I often felt like I was missing out on a whole lot of fun.  And these days, holidays are such a mainstream thing--moreso than when I was a child--that it's hard to keep your children insulated from the influence.  I honestly felt bad when Z1 went to his little Kindermusik class and all the other kids had costumes but he didn't.  I asked myself then, What's the harm, really?

So, what say you?  Do you do Christmas trees in your households?  Why or why not?

Picture courtesy of http://thumbs.dreamstime.com/thumb_198/1193071743IQjNUY.jpg

7 comments:

navelgazingbajan said...

You know, I've been thinking lately about holiday traditions that I'd like to share with my little one. We don't currently decorate for Christmas. It's partly out of indifference and partly out of laziness. Now that there's a child in the house I feel like we should at least have some sort of tradition going on. Growing up I knew what it was like to do the tree and gifts thing as well as the no tree and gifts thing. I'm not wild about the commercialism of the holidays but I don't think there's necessarily any harm in decorating a tree. Overall, I hope that any traditions we start will convey the greater meaning of the holidays.

Shay said...

Well as you know I am Christian and I do put up a tree. Since being an aduly I started doing real trees and I say that the going out and finding a tree and lugging it home is what I really enjoy. I am moving away from doing a ton of gifts but for me the tree itself is what is special.

What you described sounds like a great way to have a secular celebration of the holiday. Really I think most people should do something along those lines.

Holly said...

It begins with each one of us. Our attitude and our focus that makes the holidays commercial or a time for growth. Yes, we have a tree, a real one that is grown on a tree farm helping a family to support themselves and it is a renewable resource. A plastic tree takes 50,000 years to decay, a real tree, a little over a year.

As for traditions, our daughter with children gives a calendar that each month sharing different pictures of her kids from the last year. Our oldest daughter's gift last Christmas to these nieces is hours and hours of reading children's stories onto a CD. Our son made me a metal rose out of scrap metal. And so Christmas is about giving of our time and talents or a present that would help to further these talents. My husband found some nice wood for his father since he loves to carve bowls.

Humbug, I think not for it isn't the holidays fault but our attitudes and traditions that are the problem.The world is changed one person at a time and that person begins with you.

The Original Wombman said...

Navelgazingbajan, yeah, that's what I'm trying to be extra cautious about . . . I want the greater meaning to come across loud and clear--for them to realize all this other stuff is really just nice extras.

Thanks Shay . . . I can't imagine going out and lugging a tree home to be much fun at all! LoL. But we'll see . . . maybe in a few years.

Hi Holly . . . you make some good points. I have to say though that if I go an pick up an artificial tree, they won't be making it from scratch for me. It's already there, in the store. And for all the hassle of getting a tree, dealing with the pine needles (which I'm really not sure of given my allergies) . . . I just think it would be a lot less headache to get an artificial one. Also, in thinking about trees . . . what's better? Cutting one down just to have it for a few days or leaving it and let it grow. Lots of pine trees live for hundreds of years. Who knows? Maybe as time progresses, I'll develop a fondness for real trees. Right now, I just prefer a no hassle kind of thing.

I love your family's gift giving traditions. Some good ideas there. Thanks.

I definitely believe that we should all be the change we want to see in the world. I'd love to see the Christmas spirit extend throughout the whole year. Hopefully establishing some Christmas tradition in our family is a good place to start.

The Original Wombman said...

Wow . . . I didn't realize there was such a hot debate every year about real v. artificial Christmas trees! Quick google search yielded tons of article. I found this one: http://www.scientificblogging.com/science_motherhood/great_debate_real_vs_artificial_christmas_trees

Because we've had lead issues before in our house, i don't think I could do a fake tree in good conscience. Hopefully my local nursery will have some small, potted pine trees for not too much money.

Cocoanib said...

We have a fakey christmas tree that we put up most years. I like the tradition of that along with decorating and christmas baking. Sitting in the living room with family while the tree lights glow, enjoying hot apple cider and a fresh baked cookie is what I love most about Christmas.
We're not big into Christmas gifts. Especially, store bought mass produced items. We do love to give though. This year most everything will be homemade. We are going to 2 big fam/friends gatherings and I'm bringing a "love" bassket to each. it will be filled with homemade candles and baked goods individually packaged. Everyone can choose what they like.

The Original Wombman said...

Cocoanib, thanks for that. :)

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