Why is we feel the need to bring the pine tree into our house this time of year? Tradition of the monotheistic faiths have no ties to the evergreen. There is nothing in the scripture that dictates the need to bring a whole tree into your house. There is no significance to it in metaphor, yet people cling to it and drive to the tree lot, the deep wood, or where ever they may to bring this symbolic gesture into their home and laden it with decoration. They feel the compulsion to spread gifts under its boughs. The wish to light it and let it shine for all to see is ingrained in a much deeper and ancient place. Where does this come from?
Well the tree is simple. Our ancestors spent time in the fields, working the land. This is how they got by. This is where their food came from. Then the winter comes. The lush fields of green turn brown and life leaves the land. The harvest is pulled and the bones of the earth lay exposed. The ground goes cold and does not take to plow. Seed will not sprout, nothing green a pure escapes the womb of the earth. The night grows longer and the sun warms the skin less and less. Then the snow blankets the earth, taking all the color from the world. Death and decay abound. There is something to be said for seasonal depression.
Yet in the world the evergreen deserves its name. Through the turmoil and change of season it remains full of color. It is the vigilant reminder that life goes on even after other life is lost. It reminds us the color can and will return. We bring the branches and wreath them on our doors and windows so we may see the green of the spring to come. We fell the whole tree and bring it into our house to show us that this season like all others will pass. Then we decorate it with ribbon and other colors of spring. Lights, or in old times candles, are placed about it to call to the long sun filled days of summer. The burning twinkle grace the long nights and ward of the enveloping darkness.
The gifts used to be favors to family that could not work the field when unable to be wretched by tool. One would offer their ability to mend a plow, a trusty set of boots, or perhaps fix another persons pants. These were there to prepare for the spring again. This is a time when you trade skills with each other to prepare to once again welcome life into the field. Children blessed with toys to teach them trade and pay for things with the bright laughter filled with life.
It was this time that families traveled long cold roads to gather at long houses with the greater family. To share the warmth of each other and a great fire. It was not about price tags and door busters. It was about community. It was about sharing the dream of warmer days. It was time to trade tales of the seasons spent in the dying year. News was traded of deaths, births, marriages, and all the joys of the life lived int he previous year. This is the real gift of the season. People together sharing the fruits of their labors, and the stories of their days.
So bless to those that know that family comes first. Bless those that know that life will return to the land, and to your fields. The animals will run trails again waiting to hung and quartered to be prepared for the table. Berries will wait for the children to gather them and stain their lips again. Let the laughter fill your hall, and then you will know the wealth of the land. This is the real reason we we bring that green tree into our home. This is why it is laid to sacrifice to remind us in spite of our misgivings that life will go on, and that we are not dead forever if we can find the life in laughter and the joys of breath. It is this time of family the we know the secret of life eternal. We are gifted through that simple tree, that sacred evergreen.