My family got our very first Christmas tree three winters ago, my freshman year. After years of begging for a sharp and sweet smelling pine to put right in the bay windows that face the entirety of our street, my step-dad finally joined my side in the argument, and thus my mom was out-numbered. This first tree was about five and a half feet tall and it was adorable, (for context, the average Christmas tree is about seven and a half feet tall.) I think most people would have scoffed at our tiny tree, but to me it was the perfect addition to our home for the weeks leading up to, well, Hanukkah.
Yes, Hanukkah, tis’ the season! All the years of tree-refusal on my mother’s part were 100% warranted, as she (and myself) are born and raised Jews. The last time we went to temple, I couldn’t even tell you, but the whole family rejoices for holiday dinners annually, as that’s our way of maintaining Jewish tradition. Now my grandparents, on the other hand, about had a heart attack when they walked in our door that winter only to be faced with a tree lit up for the street to see. And even though they couldn’t object to how wonderful it smelled, they were not too pleased.
Now the question, which I understand completely: Why? Honestly, aside from that sharp smell and mesmerizing sparkle of the lights, I’ve always felt like these seasonal trees establish an emphasized sense of togetherness amongst the people of which it shares a home. At this point I don’t consider ours a Christmas tree, we don’t celebrate Christmas in the slightest form and we have no reason to. But, December is the only month that my mom, step-dad, sister, and I, who all live different yet equally busy lives, find ourselves sitting in the living room together on, say, a Wednesday evening, chatting with one another.
My desires for a tree when I was younger may have come from the inflated and consumer-geared nature of “the Christmas spirit,” which I had admittedly always felt left out of, even though I’ve always my appreciated my heritage. But as I got older and grew away from that empty jealousy, I still wished for my sharp smelling, enchanting pine. Each year I cherish the month that we spend with our not-Christmas tree, and as my family members have come to feel the same way over the past three years, I can confidently say that our trees have been reaching a soft seven feet 🙂