alessio

When I was a little girl, getting the Christmas tree was always one of the most highly anticipated events of the season.

We lived near a large Christmas tree farm, and it was a tradition to go there, traipse through the snow in search of the perfect tree, saw it down, and haul it back home to be made into a spectacular display in our living room.

We would load it up with all of our many ornaments and drown it in layer upon layer of fine silver tinsel and lights. I always liked the lights that blinked the best! In later years we even got ones that blinked in different patterns and after we would finish the tree, I would sit in awe as the many colored lights would skip around the branches, almost hypnotically.

Over the years, we made multiple runs to that tree farm, then to others, until my parents decided that enough was enough and purchased the dreaded artificial Christmas tree. Still, it had its own beauty despite the almost unnatural perfection it possessed; and, once up in our home, we felt it did quite nicely. We always said we missed that “Christmas tree” smell, like people always say once they make the switch over, and debated on real or fake for the next year. I always liked the “real” trees best, though, and vowed that there would be more of the real than the fake when I had my own home one day.

As I grew up and went out on my own, I’ve seen all kinds of trees adorn the various living rooms of my life. Thinking back on them all, several of them stand out for one reason or another.

I remember a year I didn’t have a tree at all or any money to buy one, so a friend of mine donated his family’s old tree to me so I wouldn’t go without. It was a hideously bare, little fake tree that, once decorated, proved to be quite pretty.

I remember the one that I just couldn’t stop cutting and when I was done, there was a huge gap between the trunk and bottom. My son teased me, saying a person could live underneath it, it was so bare! My kids never let me forget that one and it went down as the worst we ever had.

A few years ago, newly single, I set out to get the best and biggest tree I could find. A friend and I took his truck in search of the most splendid of all and ended up with one so large that, unbound, it filled up half my living room! It went down as the best one so far: My friends and family marveled at nature’s perfection, covered with bows and glass and lights and lots of love, standing tall and fat and full at our family’s Christmas party that year.

Last year, we chose one a little more subtle, and my daughter claimed rights to picking our tree from then on.

So it was with great fervor that she and I drove to the tree farm this year and began our hunt for this year’s prize. We looked at 8-footers and 6-footers… and 4-footers, since those would be easiest for me to decorate. We settled on a 7-foot beauty, had it bound, and tied it into the trunk. Getting it home was easy, but hauling it into the house was a little more of a challenge! We readied the stand, yanked and pulled, and hitched it up into the air, tall and proud.

Then came the moment of truth.

Scissors ready, I snipped away the binding and we watched as the branches fluttered open, revealing this year’s masterpiece.

Perfection!

Just the right size, just the right shape, just the right tree. I congratulated my daughter on another job well done and we sat down to gaze at this natural beauty from outside, come inside.

There is something about the tradition of the Christmas tree that brings out the kid in all of us. It’s a reminder of a continuity in our lives, of memories that live on year after year, and of happy times spent with loved ones.

As I swept up the pine needles and poured some water into the stand, I thanked this little tree for giving up its life to make our own lives a little better this season.

I couldn’t help but think of why we have Christmas, and of our Savior and the life he gave for us all so that all of us could have a better life here on earth and, ultimately, with him in heaven. Among the goodies, the moments, the memories ... there is indeed a reason for the season, and a bigger cause to pause.

I’ll decorate later this week, after the tree opens up some more. The kids will be away at school, the house will be too quiet, and I’ll slip in some Christmas music while I adorn this tree for the holiday. I’ll unwrap dozens of ornaments from over the years – some for the kids, some from my childhood – and reflect on how many years these same trimmings have been hung on so many, many trees. I’ll get a little sentimental, miss my loved ones that are no longer here, sing too loudly for the neighbors to stand, and then settle into my loveseat, lights off, to stare at the multi-colored lights as they glimmer and dance and glow.

Yes, you do it too, don’t you?

Ahhh... another Christmas!



Lisa K. Alessio is a lifelong resident and writer living in Grove City. Reach her at alongthe way2009@yahoo.com. Colum published December 2, 2009 in Allied News. Pick up a copy at 201A Erie St., Grove City.