"How does the water get to the roots?" asked my daughter's Jewish friend about our Christmas tree. Knowing a tree would surely die if the water couldn't get to its roots, she was not only curious, but also concerned, about how the water could get to our tree's roots. Imagine her reaction when my daughter told her it couldn't - because we had cut the tree down.
I do feel a bit of guilt at the notion of cutting down a living tree each year to serve as our family Christmas tree. After all, it is literally giving its life for us. But I don't think I will ever be able to give up this tradition. I'm not unwilling to part with tradition; rather, I am unwilling to part with the life each tree gives me.
Christmas trees, being evergreens, are symbols of life that thrives throughout the year, no matter the weather. We add lights, which bring precious brightness during the darkest time of year. Ornaments, which in my home are treasures gifted and purchased, and reminders of someone or somewhere special, adorn the branches. My Christmas tree, while technically dead, is alive. And it brings me great joy.
This year's tree for me is my most favorite of all. (My family would say I say that every year, which may or may not be true, and even if it is, it is still true that this year's tree is my favorite, and I truly believe it is.) I specifically chose this tree because it was more "open" - again, my family not sure what I was talking about. When we brought it in and the branches settled, it was clear that there was much open space between the branches, which tended to reach out in all directions. All of the openess allowed for the lights to be placed well into the interior, and for our beloved treasures to hang in nooks and crannies. I love its imperfect perfection. I have spent many an early morning staring deeply into this living symbol of Christmas spirit. It has literally filled my heart with joy and love.
Sadly, my Christmas tree, with its lights and treasures, will soon come down. Just as it "lived on" even after water no longer fed its roots, I vow that the joy it brought will live on in my heart to bring brightness to the world. My hope for this post-Christmas season is that we might all take the joy and love of Christmas deep into the dark places in our world. May they help us bring peace and understanding to the hearts and minds of all people, allowing us to all feel the light and the life. If a tree whose roots no longer take water can do it, I believe we can, too.
author of "JOY"