An idealistic tradition: The perfect tree

Iliana Woloch ‘24, News Editor

The holiday season has come around once more, and the world is alive with the hustle and bustle that always accompanies this time of year. Don’t worry, this is not just another article trying to convince its readers that all those seasonal traditions held so near to the hearts of many are blocking out the true meaning of the holiday. On the contrary, many of the ‘commercialist’ ideas practiced throughout the ages have become an essential part of what makes the season so enjoyable for hundreds of people all over the world.

Take the Christmas tree for example; although they were not originally part of this centuries-old celebration, their absence would not go unnoticed. But just like many other parts of the holiday season, the tradition of decorating Christmas trees has been used by many companies as an easy way to make money. The concept of  ideal trees and their decorations have been promoted and ‘redefined’ so many times that somewhere in the mix any original significance of the tradition was lost completely. Forgotten is any sense of meaning behind the annual practice, and who even remembers the reasoning behind this tradition in the first place?

Author Elizabeth Pham said, “As adults, we can get so focused on the preparations and the subsequent return to normalcy that we forget to savor the very point of it all. We cook and clean and then we quickly clean up after the cooking and the cleaning. We buy gifts, wrap them, and then frantically pick up all the scraps of wrapping paper.” Similarly, the acquisition and decoration of Christmas trees has become less of a family tradition and instead, part of an elaborate puzzle to decorate your house in the most trendy way possible. Like other seasonal symbols, setting up the Christmas tree should not be seen as a chore or obligation but as a way to spend time with your family.

This December, over 25 million families will venture out to tree lots across America in hopes of finding the perfect tree. But like everything else about the holiday season, many fall into the trap of over complication. 

Balsam, Fraser, Canaan, Douglas, Grand, Noble, Concolor, White Pine, and so many other evergreens grow beyond what you can see in every direction.  There is virtually any kind of pine tree you could ever want, just waiting to be found, and so the search begins. 

With all these options, it would seem impossible to not find the perfect tree. However, row after row, you begin to lose hope. That one is too tall, but the one on the right is much too short. Your brother loves this one over here, but it is just so sappy that needles would be stuck to your clothes for days. The color on those is weird, that section on the left looks like the needles might fall off any day now, and this one… the trunk is crooked. Too skinny, too flimsy, and that one smells funny. 

But there it is…the textbook tree…completely perfect in every way. A tree to go with the seasonal decor in the living room, the room no one can go in  now because Mom will have a fit if something gets messed up. The perfect tree to go with the perfect trimmings you spent way too much money on. A centerpiece to be strategically placed right in front of that big window out front so everyone who passes by will see just how perfect it is. A tree to put all of those gifts you wrapped under it, the ones you bought because you did not know what else to get Aunt Edna. Some of them will be kept forever and some thrown out the day after they are received. 

Nevertheless, even with the most flawless of all the holiday symbols, one can still find that the ‘magic of christmas’ is lacking. For it is not the tree, or the lights, or even the food that makes this time of year so special in the hearts of so many. Rather, it is the memories shared with those we care about, yes that fortune-cookie message that’s been repeated dozens of times; but maybe that’s because we’ve never really taken this all too wise advice to heart. 

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