A friend of mine emailed a Christmas card yesterday with a story of the family’s tradition of the son’s quest for the annual Christmas tree. Our kids are the same age, so it resonated with me, as did the metaphor of how far we have to go to find what we’re looking for.
That aside, his story got me thinking of our own traditions, which have had to be flexible over the years as the kids bounced between two households in two states. This year, the girls were home with me, and we had a revelation, which I described in this email I sent back to my friend.
“We had a Christmas tree tradition sort of fall into place about the same time, too. I have two daughters, one is now 15, and several years ago, it became our ritual to get the tree. We’d bring it home, and the older daughter, now 19, would do most of the decorating. This seemed to suit both their personalities, so like I said, it naturally fell into place.
“Last Sunday, after they both got home Saturday, we went for the tree. We drove all the way to the other side of town scoping out the different tree lots. We were going to drive back and stop at them.
“The first one we went to had nice trees, and I found one small enough to fit in the house. There was a cute, little, itty bitty one, about 3 1/2 feet tall and very wide at the bottom. It was deeply discounted, but I didn’t buy it. I had to have the ‘pretty’ one. We left the underdog tree at the lot. My daughter and I talked about it, but drove off anyway.
“After we put up the ‘pretty’ tree, I started to really think about that Charlie Brown Christmas Tree I left behind. We all talked about it and decided we are going to buy the Charlie Brown tree from now on. We are going to buy the one that isn’t pretty, because it is going to end up in the landfill, and maybe, in a best case scenario, it will go to the lot owner’s brush pile for wildlife habitat.
“Did you ever see the episode of Friends where Phoebe does not like live trees being cut, and she tries to sell people the brown, dead, Charlie Brown trees leftover from the year before?! Big Friends fans, my kids were all for buying the underdog tree from now on.
“So our tradition has morphed into a more positive, conscious, ‘green,’ if you will, event, and I am really looking forward to buying the ‘ugly’ tree next year!
“Happy New Year!”