It’s completely ok if you have a dead tree in your living room right now. Lots of people do! The tradition is extremely old and has to do with bringing the life force of nature into a dwelling during the winter months. Like most of the Christian traditions, it was a mixture of the old with the “new” when Christianity was trying to convert people. More than likely, that is not why you put a tree into your house. Your tradition is a direct line to your parents, your childhood and/or a recognized social norm. All are completely fine and understanding the origins of the practice does not need to change how you feel about it. As you open presents today, drink eggnog or eat chicken gizzards (a real thing for some people), please recognize that these are patterns of behavior that you have chosen to perpetuate. Our behavior around the holidays is often dependent upon our upbringing or social circle.
The same is true for most of our behaviors. Our habits, routines, beliefs and identities are largely based upon those two forces as well. They feel normal and changing them comes with an emotional price tag even if they don’t really make sense. Calling it a “dead tree” felt different than if I had called it a “Christmas tree.” There is no emotional attachment to a “dead tree.” People could live without having a dead tree in their house but not having a Christmas tree just wouldn’t feel right. We’re looking for that feeling the tree gives, not the reasons that we started getting them. If the feeling stopped, most likely the tradition would stop. OR are we such creatures of habit that we would persist like Clark W. Griswold to have a crappy Christmas because that’s just what happens?
I’d like to believe the former but happy to help with the latter. If you don’t know why you have that dead tree in your living room and you hate the lights, the ornaments and the star, then make a change. Everything is up for consideration. The things that are necessary or bring you joy, then by all means keep them. However it is foolish to have a dead tree that you don’t love in your house.
Look at your habits, routines, beliefs and identities, if they no longer serve you, then it might be time for a change. Yes! You can change even the most engrained traditions. The Christmas tree is an extremely old tradition but you could drop it next year if you chose. Nothing in your life has that much staying power. However there might be a vacuum in the space that you need to fill with something. Not particularly a direct a replacement but something that you can give meaning. It must have value to you and help progress you forward. The Christians adopted the tradition of the tree in order to help spread their cause. What is your cause? How can you move it forward? What traditions can you adopt as soon as possible to move toward the life that you want? Begin today to look for the opportunity to move into the next season of your life free of the weight of the old and useless. Keep what works by all means! Then look to replace that which does not work with the more useful.
Forty years ago Mariah Carey was not a part of Christmas. Things change and so can you!