Is it because I grew up with it and it seems so familiar? The Christmas tree taps that feeling deep inside my childhood. A signifier of a time when I felt safe, curious and totally taken care of. Even if I sensed that there were struggles in our family, through the lens of that tree things always seemed hopeful and forward looking. Culminating this hope were the presents under the tree that in my small world anchored me in this material world.
Later when xmas itself took on different layers of meaning and my association changed...heavied by adult worries and family dynamics..the expectations of me and of others...as I tried to redefine for myself what the holidays were about. For this and other reasons, I went without a tree for many years, the overreaching reason being 'to embrace my maternal heritage to Judaism'.
During this time I missed the tree but it seemed empty to simply claim it for its cultural value (and only because that's what I've always done). No, I wanted to clear a palate for getting to know this other culture. Judaism has its own beauty and rich opportunity for stories, songs and fighting sprit which rings a true for me. A bit of realism that I found xmas to be without- part of it's magical fantastic draw is that I didn't have the backstory the religion, realism or a fight. Just the fantasy wand of Christmas separated from its religion. Simply, Santa unfettered and friendly. The earthiness of the tree only made better but magical sparkles and glitter. What an invitation and I still feel the lure of the unassociated Christmas tree. I was afraid to see and have the meaning disappear but now I see something else another meaning that is more personal to me (and my history) about why the tree may always be home to me. And knowing that I have room in my heart for these different feelings for both Xmas and Chanukah makes me feel like holidays can once again be joyous and yet personal. "Let it be" "Let it be" "Let it be".