Tree Raising

Christmas has become a lot of things in recent years and some of them have nothing to do with Christmas, that is, Christmas in the traditional, religious sense.  I’m guilty of it myself – I’m not especially religious and I’m totally exploiting this holiday for my own purposes. My reasons though, are honourable.

Christmas is about family.

While my family is as dysfunctional as any other, we manage to get along. We love, we give and I actually get to see relatives I may only see one other time that year. Christmas makes us connect. Christmas brings us together. I love it and I’m grateful for that.

Christmas is also about memories.

Christmas is odd in Australia because although it’s (obviously) southern and completely summer, everything I associate with Christmas is very northern and completely winter. I send Christmas cards with snow and robins on them and lay garlands of fake mistletoe along the mantelpiece. Christmas trees lopped from a pine plantations don’t last long (and make a pine needle mess) so every year of my entire life, we’ve had a fake Christmas tree. And every year, the family puts it up.

Our first family Christmas tree was from the 1950s. It was my grandmother’s old tree, with plastic interlocking truck and each layer of limbs had to be slotted into sections A, B or C. Top of the range – probably, for its age – but it was brittle and each year we’d find leaves and wonder where they were meant to go. After we assembled the tree our hands would smell like coin-metal and plastic. And each year, the cat peed in the tree box.

We’d decorate the tree in memories. Things we’d made at school, decorations we were given. Remember that? It came with those teddy bears. I remember pulling the decorations from storage and smelling their plastic-faux-ness. Dad would string the paperchains around the room and complain about the Blu-tack staining the walls.

My mother helped me decorate my tree today. We reminisced about decorations, I explained the significance of decorations from my husband’s youth. A small stocking he made from felt at school.

Christmas is about loss.

I have decorations my grandmother gave me and she was all for a party, no matter the circumstance. Mum said, “I miss Mum, this time of year.”

“Me too,” I said, “But really, they are with us more than we know.”

Christmas is all these things.

This is why I love Christmas.

It’s about family.


13 thoughts on “Tree Raising

      • Funny (true) story: I attended the prom as a sophomore. My senior date had very red hair. At one point, he leaned over the table and his hair CAUGHT ON FIRE from one of the candles! I was smacking him in the head (several of us were, probably) trying to put it out and he’s like what are you doing?? We’re all screaming: YOUR HAIR IS ON FIRE! Hilarious. Oh, and he was fine, lost very little of his precious red curls, actually, thanks to all of our mad fire-fighting skills.

  1. My mom isn’t big on Christmas so I acquired all her decorations and love that I get to hang the exact ones from when I was little on our tree now. And love slowly picking up our own decorations too. And setting up our own family traditions as well.

  2. I love how you acknowledged that Christmas is also about loss. Too often I think people get caught up in the mad dash to “be joyful dammit” that they don’t have a chance to honor the sorrow they might feel.

    I grew up in California, so, while not as warm as Australia, I am more than familiar with what I used to call “green Christmas.” (as opposed to white ones, lol) Snow at Christmas still feels foreign to me, despite having lived in the Midwest for years now.

    Which reminds me, tomorrow (today!) we’re decorating, because it’s my husband’s favorite holiday and I promised we’d get the tree up this weekend. 🙂

    • Thank you for your thoughts.

      I LOVE Christmas, but I think more than any other time (for me, at least) it reminds us of who we’ve lost. I think it is important to acknowledge this.

      For all the green Christmases I’ve seen, I still see snow and think of Christmas. It’s really quite odd. So much advertising and marketing and television and films show Christmas in winter it is honestly what I think of. One day I hope to experience a white Christmas. This truly is a dream of mine! Actually, for fun one year, my family held an Ausmas party in July, but we would of had to climb a mountain to find snow.

      Have a great weekend and happy tree raising. 🙂

      • It is important to remember – it contributes to who we are. 🙂

        Thanks! And how fun to know that someone I know in Australia has put their tree up, too! My kids will get such a kick out of that, lol. 🙂

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