Tag Archives: christmas tree

‘Tis the Beacon for the Season

24 Dec

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Shortly after arriving in Michigan, I sent my sister a photo of my parents’ Christmas tree with the message, “Can we discuss how ginormous this tree is?” It’s like the dream tree from The Nutcracker. I’m not exaggerating when I estimate it to be 16 feet tall.

As someone who has struggled in the past to drag home an 8’ tree and get it upright in a stand, I’m in awe of my septuagenarian parents for somehow managing to wrangle this beast on their own. It seriously doesn’t even look like it would fit through the door.

It’s so massive that when the UPS guy showed up with a delivery, my mom caught him squatting on the front stoop, trying to look in through the door. When she asked if she could help him he said, “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a tree that big,” so she invited him in for a proper viewing. He was so blown away she half-expected him to return with his wife.

This 16-footer is not the tree of my childhood. No. We lived in a small Cape Cod-style home when I was growing up, tucking a tree into a corner of the living room only after we rearranged the furniture to make room for it.  My mom – for whom Christmas is THE event of the year – always lamented that she couldn’t have a bigger tree. So now she’s making up for lost time.

Oh, we still had our fair share of memorable trees when we lived on Ideal Street. (And yes, that was actually the name of our street in small-town Michigan.)

Like the year the tree fell in the middle of the night, sounding like a burglar had smashed through the picture window of the living room. Or the year I got a pellet gun for Christmas and used the ornaments for target practice while my parents were out of the room.

One of the most re-told Christmas tree stories in our family is of the year I had my driver’s permit and was allowed to drive to the tree farm. We’d left our minivan (which had a MANUAL transmission and drove like a bus) near the entrance of the property as we walked the lanes to find the perfect tree. Once we’d made our pick, my dad began sawing and sent me back to retrieve the van.

From my perspective: As a new driver, it was challenging to handle the irregular terrain while working out the nuances of shifting, so I simply worked my way up to third gear and stayed there. From my family’s perspective: After cutting the tree, they looked up to see their red minivan flying across the field to them, bouncing as it hit each raised row. I still remember the hand gestures as they tried to get me to slow down and take a more gentle approach. Didn’t happen.

One of the cool things about where my parents live now is that I can look out the window and see our past Christmas trees, propped against other trees all down through the woods leading to the river. Sure, their needles have all fallen, but they provide cover when a hawk comes flying through, looking for prey.

Objectively, it’s kind of a crazy tradition, putting a tree in the middle of your home for a few weeks each year and wrapping it in lights. And yet, they’re so much more than simply pretty decorations. These trees serve as beacons, pulling people across the miles each year to spend time with their families and friends, if even for a few days.

So Merry Christmas to you! And if you don’t have a tree up, then seek out someone who does – they’ve already invited you.