Monday, November 7, 2011

O' Christmas Tree, Do We Really Need Thee?

I have been thinking a lot this week, about Christmas Trees.

Perhaps it's because each time I log in to Facebook, my news feed informs me that another spirited individual has successfully planted a coniferous tree in their living room and adorned it with bright lights and sparkly tinsel. Perhaps it is the shock and look of askance I get, when people learn that I have never, in all my 18 years of living on my own, ever put up a Christmas Tree or Christmas Decorations.  It is not that I am against the putting up of a Christmas Tree, in fact I take great delight in the beauty of the Tannenbaum. For me it's always simply been a matter of circumstance and priority.  I am a single woman, no children, living on my own, to put up a tree just seems impractical.  I celebrate Christmas day with my family, so I'm not even home on the joyous occasion.  Money has never been so ample, that I thought a Christmas tree and decorations were worth the cost. I would rather spend that money on gas to visit someone I have not seen in a long time or taking a friend out for dinner.

I always told myself that when I get married, or when I have children, I will have a tree. I would carry on the tradition my mom started with her 4 children, of putting up and decorating the Christmas tree after watching the live airing of the Toronto Santa Clause Parade on Global.  I have, however, been questioning that logic this week and I think I have come to the resolute conclusion, that single or married, with children or childless, I will never be putting up a Christmas Tree.  Some might say I am a Scrooge, all bah-hum-bug about the season but really what does a Christmas Tree have to do with the true spirit of Christmas.

Christmas is about the gift we were given in Christ. His birth in a manager, living among us, growing up to be the Saviour of the world, ultimately sacrificing His life for ours.  Christmas is about sacrifice, giving up so others can have. 

I started to research the cost of Christmas Trees.  If you purchase a real tree, each year you will spend a minimum of $30 - $200.  An Artificial Tree is anywhere from $99.99 - $599.99 (Really $600.00 on a Christmas Tree).  Then you have the cost of ornaments, and garland, tinsel and the ever coveted perfect angel/star Topper.  Some may argue that you buy it once and then you are set, it's an investment.  True I suppose, if you are buying an artificial tree, but even then you are updating the ornaments and the accessories every year, and I have been to Hallmark and Walmart and they aren't cheap, and let's not forget the added cost to your electricity bill. It all adds up, in fact here are some of the numbers, $73.9 million - The value of farm cash receipts for Christmas trees in Canada in 2005. $196.2 million - The value of Christmas decorations imported to Canada in 2005. The bulk ($175.3 million) came from China, with Russia and some Eastern European nations supplying much of the remainder.  A lot of money spent on 60 days of fabricated beauty that symbolizes what exactly?

So with that in mind I am giving up any notion of ever having a Christmas Tree.  I am going to start a new tradition. At the beginning of November, I am going to legitimately estimate, what I would have spent that year on a Christmas Tree and/or decorations and then after the Santa Clause parade, I will go out (friends, spouse and/or children in hand), and we will purchase items to give away to those in need.  Maybe gift certificates for the homeless, turkeys for the local soup kitchen, or a thank you gift for someone who serves with our Fire Department.  Perhaps one year I will I simply buy random gifts and hand them out to random strangers (oh wait we are dong that this year - Video Post to come in December ). Perhaps I will start a "Tree Free Christmas" Campaign and encourage each person in my community to give the money they would have spent on a tree or ornaments in support of a local charity that I'm passionate about.

What I have come to realize is that I do not need a Christmas tree. In all my 18 years without one, I have never missed it, and as far as I can tell, no one else close to me has been traumatized by my not having one. If you love your Christmas tree, than, please do not take offense at my recent personal conviction. Should I happen to ever pass by your home, and see your ornately decorated tree, shining brightly in your window, I will not pass judgement but rather will enjoy the nostalgic memories and beauty it offers.

If you have read this post, and something is stirring within you, if this resonates in your spirit, why not consider joining me for a Tree Free Christmas. Want something a little more committal, jump in with both feet, and sell your artificial tree and ornaments on Kijiji, giving the money to a cause of your choosing.  Why not use Facebook or local media to start your own "Tree Free Christmas" Campaign in support of a charity in your community.

If you are thinking to yourself, I already give extra at Christmas time, thank-you. Thank-you for truly getting into the Christmas spirit.  Can I challenge you though? Can you give a little more? Could you, would you, for one year, give up the Christmas Tree, the garland, the ornaments, the topper, and take that money and spend it in a way that will brighten someone else's day?  Even if you only buy one new ornament a year, why not give it up this year, and give back to one more person in need. I know it will be a sacrifice - but I assure you, that the gift is in the giving.  Why not consider doing it this year?  Who knows maybe it will become a new tradition for you and your family as well.

Leave a comment and  let me know your thoughts? Do We Really Need Thee Christmas Tree?