I love Christmas trees.
I love the way real ones make everything smell woodsy. I love how they add a seasonal bling with lights and baubles. Ornaments from the very elegant to the sweetly homemade. Glass and glitz to paper and glitter. A time-honored tradition from centuries past.
As a symbol, they’ve evolved.
Ancient European Gauls used to decorate their homes with evergreen branches during the winter to remind them that spring would come. In Medieval Germany, Christians adopted the tradition and put evergreens in their homes during the Christmas season, decorating them with apples and calling them Paradise Trees. A reminder that Christmas was all about the fulfillment of a promise God made to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.
In 1848, Christmas trees became popular when Queen Victoria of England encouraged her German husband, Prince Albert, to decorate a tree for their home, just as he’d done as a boy. It was featured in the illustrated magazine of the day and became the rage among the English and quickly spread overseas.
In 1882, Edward Johnson, an associate of Thomas Edison, created the first electric lights for Christmas trees.
Now it’s family tradition.
Not all of our trees have been huge successes. There were the years the kids were little and we didn’t decorate the bottom. They’d just pull off the ornaments and chew on them. As they got older and took more responsibility for decorating, where they could reach was where the ornaments ended up. Bottom-heavy trees.
Then there was the tree tragedy of the year we had a gal living with us who’d brought her cat.
We’re not cat people.
The cat would scale the tree. Continually. The tree would fall. Continually. It took several tree tumbles, multiple broken lights and ornaments, before we wised up enough to attach fishing line to the ceiling and hold it up.
Christmas trees. From humble beginnings to greatly enjoyed tradition.
Christmas itself is a bit like that.
“But you, Bethlehem Ephratha, you are little to be among the clans of Judah; yet out of you shall One come forth for Me Who is to be Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth have been from of old, from ancient days, eternity.” Micah 5:2
Bethlehem was a small, nondescript place, birthplace of King David, but no big deal. Jesus, the King of Kings, was born in a stable because the inns were full. Not an auspicious beginning for any great ruler. And the Jews were looking for a powerful leader.
And yet in this country, mention Jesus or His followers, and a room will quickly divide. People are passionately for Him. Or against Him. Discrimination of those who follow Him is never considered discrimination. Jesus followers are merely called intolerant.
Maybe more intolerable. Because what His followers believe pushes people to consider their life choices.
You can try and take the spiritual aspect out of Christmas. Call it “Sparkle Day” as some up north would choose. It doesn’t change what it is.
It’s the celebration of God coming to earth in the form of man. The fulfillment of the promise of God to save mankind from our own darkness.
That’s a truth you can string lights on. And celebrate.
The big question: Star or angel on top?