As I traveled the main drag of the post-rural communities that I now call home and witnessed the Christmas Tree lots springing up I began to wonder and remember. When I was a child our Christmas tree was decorated with a mish-mash of ornaments largely selected and created by my sister and I. These were mixed with singular ornaments that our mother had purchased or received over the years from various family, friends and craft fairs. Glancing over our tree it would not be surprising to find a clay reindeer (which you only knew was a reindeer because the child who created it told you so) hanging next to store bought cowboy ornaments and precious family momentos. In other words, the tree very much reflected our family’s American heritage – we were a mixed lot who was neither sure where we were going nor where we had been.
As my sister and I grew and moved out of the house my mother’s Christmas Tree took a dramatic change. Instead of a collaboration of years of random purchases and creations it became an art piece full of matching colored balls and lights of a complimentary color. What was once a convoluted history of our interests and creative abilities instead became a statement about the wealth and standing in society that my mother wished upon herself and her children. I think this may well be what killed the Christmas spirit in me. The holiday was no longer about family fun, but rather about appearances. And appearances are something about which I’ve seldom been concerned.