We have a bottle tree in our front yard. It registers somewhere between cool and tacky, with a little bit of red neck thrown in for zaniness. On this particular afternoon the light hit it perfectly as if reminding us that anything can work if you want it to. It was as if the bottle tree was standing a bit taller and shining a bit brighter, like it thought it could be worthy of being a Christmas tree.
Who are we to judge what makes one tree more suited to be a Christmas tree than another? Of course everyone wants the perfect tree, and everyone thinks their tree is the perfect tree. And we all think our tree is the best tree, our decorations are the right kind of decorations, and ours is the most beautiful tree of all. But there are all sorts of trees out there serving as Christmas trees, even if they aren’t really trees at all. As long as the admirers are there who are we to judge that one tree is better than another, be it pink, purple, a bottle tree, a living tree or one made out of popsicle sticks? Each one has something to offer and brings value for the people who love it.
We each have our idea of the right way to do Christmas. We each have traditions, favorites, preferences and even show deferential treatment to those who agree with our way of celebrating. What is amazing is when you get people around a table sharing their family’s version of celebrating the holidays and listen to what they love and enjoy. It might look different, smell different, shine differently and even feel different, yet THAT is their way of bringing joy to their family. Sort of like a bottle tree covered in antique bottles and beverage containers from decades long gone pretending to be a Christmas tree. Might not be your idea of how to do it, yet you cannot deny that it looks a lot like what is in your living room.
Maybe it is time for us to celebrate the differences we all bring to the table and enjoy the joy and life that this season reminds us to employ. We can learn a lot from a bottle tree in being ourselves and sharing what we have to offer all year long. Who are we to judge what is the right way? Does it really matter?