Monday, 2 January 2012

dying trees

I read a couple of comments on Twitter this morning about dying Christmas trees. Graham Tomlin commented:
4 days left of Christmas. Tree looking a bit droopy. Not sure it will make it. May need to be put out of its misery.
Michael Owen also tweeted with accompanying picture:
It has served us well but it's old and saggy now and ready to go! (cue the comparison jokes!!!)
This got me thinking about our own tree which is beginning to droop but should make it through until Twelfth Night. I’m a big fan of having a real tree as a Christmas tree and never liked those fake plastic jobs that my family used to have. I enjoy the ritual of choosing the tree and this year we went for something smaller as we’ve moved and don’t have as much room. I also like the way that no two trees are the same and that although they give a first appearance of symmetry they have awkward branches that keep springing out of shape.

I think Jane Williams was on to something when she observed:
Part of the charm of the Christmas tree is exactly that power to evoke the strange and wonderful. Simply by being a tree, yet indoors, it speaks of the fact that ordinary rules do not apply during Christmas. The outside world is brought inside, or perhaps the inside world is shared with the outside – who knows which is the right description? Either way, as we deck the tree, we are celebrating a time when barriers are dissolved, when we can see magic in the ordinary…
I do wonder whether part of the reason that our trees are struggling to make it through to the end of Christmas, which Graham rightly reminds us still has a few days left, is that we are tempted to put them up too early. Perhaps if we started celebrating Christmas after Advent rather than half way through it our decorations may not look so stale.

However, there is something theologically important about Christmas decorations deteriorating and dying. The drooping tree, browning holly and wilting mistletoe remind us that Christmas engages with a real world which includes decay and death. I read about a chap who so enjoys Christmas that he celebrates it every day: decorations; full Christmas dinner; presents and all the other trimmings. Sadly, he’s missed the point, which is not to stand still preserving a moment in time but to live life in the light of the Christmas story and all that it signifies.

Perhaps the dying decorations also remind us that we have to allow the Christ child to grow up and eventually to set his face towards Jerusalem; the place of suffering and death on an Easter tree.

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