Decorations are one aspect of Christmas that seems to get all the bad press. Oh no! They’re being put up earlier every year. Heaven forfend! They’re going up on government property! Is there no separation of Church and state? Great Caesar’s Ghost! They are simply morasses of glass, tin and plastic that serve no purpose whatsoever other than to take up attic space! I like to respond to these exhortations with one question: What is the reason for the season? Jesus you say? Ah yes, but what did we celebrate before we heard of the Prince of Peace? That’s right! The Winter Solstice, a.k.a the longest night of the year!
It’s like this. Every season has its own tree decorations. In spring we have the buds and flowers, in summer we have the harvest, and in the fall we get the coloured leaves. What do we have in winter? Snow, long nights, and naked branches. In our neck of woods you don’t even get the snow! It’s just damp death and desolation everywhere you go in nature. This leads to something called Seasonal Affect Disorder in humans. Symptoms include depression, pessimism, and getting screwed on vacation packages to Mexico. Sure you could take a vitamin supplement, rent a tanning bed, but where’s the fun in that? Why not give winter its very own tree decoration? It’s not some kind of religious indoctrination. We’re merely trying to mimic nature. It’s also uniquely human that we write a different ending for the story of winter. Free thinking creatures that we are, we like to create our own fate. Instead of rolling over and succumbing to the cold and misery around us, we turn it into a festival of gold, silver and coloured lights.