Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Who will defend the Christmas tree?

December 11, 2006

Why do Christmas trees threaten people? They have been around for centuries, part of various cultures for centuries, and yet in recent years it seems that Christmas trees are under attack! Why? What has a poor Christmas tree ever done to somebody? Have they committed murder? Have they robbed a bank? Have they abused a child? Have they run for political office and made promises they were not ever going to keep? No!

Yet, the poor, beleaguered Christmas tree is under attack again, this time by a Rabbi in Seattle, Washington. Now, after years of faithful service to the Seattle Airport, nine, loyal trees have had their lights dimmed, their decorations hidden away in some dark and dank storage unit, and been put away in their boxes, possible to never see the light of day again. This did not happen in the light of day, but in the wee hours of night, with few people around to witness one more step in the eradication of the life of the Christmas tree! It was as if the trees were horrible criminals, shunted away in the dark of night, a hint of communism suddenly in the United States. Christmas trees beware, your days are numbered!

There is an old saying: you cannot please all of the people all of the time.

The Christmas tree is a perfect example of this. I mean, once upon a time, it was just a simple tree. It lived its life in the forest, home to birds and squirrels, its falling needles nourishment for the ground. Then, one day, so far back that no one truly remembers when, someone began to decorate the trees and called it a Christmas tree. For centuries, it lived up to this domestic abuse by the humans who willing cut it down to build shelter or provide warmth for their families. It suffered the indignities of having lights strung through it, tinsel wrapped around it, and a lack of water so severe that its needles fell off and remained forever in the carpets of millions of houses worldwide. Then, at the end of the season, it was tossed to the curb without a second thought, some tinsel still remaining to flutter in an icy wind. Oh, the indignities suffered by the Christmas tree, and yet it never complained. It never spoke out and said, “Hey, do you mind, I’m pretty comfortable out here in the wild, with the sun shining down and the wind in my boughs. I’d rather you not chop me with an axe or cut me with a saw. Yes, I know, it gets cold out here, and dry in the heat of summer, but it’s a life, and not a bad one at that.” No, the Christmas tree suffered in silence and bore the decorations of generations. The Christmas tree stood tall and proud in Rockefeller Center, in the White House, in businesses and airports, in banks and grocery stores, and in homes both small and large. It did not ask for the honor, but accepted it none-the-less.

Now, in a multi-cultural society, the tree once again fears for its safety. It does not fear the bite of the axe or chainsaw, or the possibility of drying out, or the ravages of wildfires set by humanity’s carelessness. No, it fears a society that sees the Christmas tree as a threat to their beliefs.

In 2005, a movement (and yes, equivalent to some other stinky movement, I think) began to have the Christmas tree called a Holiday Tree to embrace all cultures. Now, a Rabbi in Seattle protests and nine trimmed trees suddenly find themselves shipped off to storage. Isn’t it about time that humanity gave the poor Christmas tree a break? Why should the Christmas tree have to change its name? Why should the Christmas trees in the Seattle Airport have to be removed in the wee hours of night with few people around? Why can’t we all just leave the poor Christmas tree alone? It is just a tree after all; a pine tree really, that once a year takes on a different name: Christmas tree. It is not a Holiday Tree, because it does not celebrate all Holidays, just one holiday – Christmas. And yet this grand tradition teeters on the edge of a great chasm.

It is not too late, to save the poor Christmas tree.

One voice – a Rabbi in Seattle – decided the fate of nine Christmas trees. Please be aware, the Rabbi did not make the decision to spirit the trees away, but his actions alone caused the airport authorities to make the decision.

A time of indecision is upon the world, upon the lives of Christmas trees everywhere. If we, the loyal followers of the Christmas tree, do not do something, then who will? The Christmas tree cannot speak for itself. If a tree falls in a forest, does it make a sound? If nine trees are spirited away in the night, with no one to see, has it really happened? If other business across the land fail to put up Christmas trees next year, did Christmas trees ever really exist?
I do not know the answers to those questions, but I know that the idea of a Christmas tree hangs in the balance.