I grew up with a silver aluminum tree. There will be those who respond to that fact with pity. There will be others for whom an indescribable nostalgia sweeps through from head to toe.
Ours was a fancy tree with a turning color wheel at its base. I thought it to be the most beautiful thing in all the world. The turning light threw the tree into sparkling green, red, yellow, and he
avenly blue. I felt so sorry for those who had to go cut down a real one. I imagined them like the scraggly ones from our pasture that popped up now and then, anemic and brown, not much more than a bush with colored balls weighing down sparse branches.
Every night after supper, I parked myself under our fancy trees’ silver stick branches. I watched the display of colors change into sparkling reflections. Loving every dancing hue, I perpetually rearranged ornaments for optimum shine. It was balanced and pristine.
Then I grew up and the other side of the family into which I married…ahem…seemed to think such an artificial facsimile beneath the splendor of the organic feel and smell of the real thing. And so began my initiation into the real deal.
We married and got a cut tree that first year. It might have been then when I first realized that lights are basically evil. One dark sinner smote the entire bunch. And, there is always one. I’m pretty sure that while lights are safely packed inside red totes after the season, they plot, devise, and stealthily move to infect their entire strand.
Every year we take those carefully wound ropes out and plug them in and the swath down the middle is gone. Dead. Dark. Not only is the connective Christmas spirit dampened, so is the marital bliss. I’m pretty sure that while lights are safely packed inside red totes after the season, they plot, devise, and stealthily move to infect their entire strand. Click To Tweet
I figure when the fancy fad, way back in the day, of the aluminum tree became a thing, my dad, not one who exuded patience, probably jumped on it. The magic wheel underneath gave plenty of sparkle and twinkle without hassle of Christmas lights to untangle and replace.
Need I even go to the abundant parallels where the tree lights connect with spiritual life? Because they are there. How we shine brighter in community, how one small stray can wreck a whole lot of others, and the way we need to be plugged in to the right source. Light in the darkness. Good versus evil. Illustrations abound. After all, did not Jesus Himself claim to be the Light of the World?
“I think we got them all,” he says hopefully. “Let’s both look carefully.”
And we do. We stare at the tree, walking inch by inch around it like revolving doors. We look at each little pre-lit branch on our compromise-fake-green tree, which we purchased a few years ago. We bought it trusting light strand hassles to be a thing of the past.
After an entire evening spent looking for those tiny little dark sinners and expelling them from the congregation, finally, finally the tree glows.
We high five, sit down and enjoy the peace and beauty. Background Christmas music plays.
Homemade ornaments our kids crafted when they were little hang suspended like bright memories. We whisper back and forth because the magic shouldn’t be broken.
And then from the chair in the corner, loud, slow and deliberate my husband shatters the bliss.
“I see one that’s not working.”
And just like that, a sad dark river sweeps across the middle. It’s wave devours and divides the happy good little lights on the top from the sweet twinkling lights on the bottom.
So maybe the real moral of the story has more to do with Christmas patience than Christmas lights, about appreciation of beauty’s simplicity, or remembering Christmas isn’t about fancy trappings.
However, do not be surprised if you find a sparkling aluminum tree changing colors like a chameleon in our living room next year, lighting the darkness. It will be stunning.