This is one of those things I always wished would work when I was a little kid. I felt bad cutting down trees and wanted to just enjoy them for a month and then put them back where they belong, in the forest. If only it worked that way.

It’s strange, when you think about it, just how complex one’s feelings can be about something as simple as a tree. There are plenty of people that cut down a tree and think nothing of it. It’s just a holiday tradition, after all. But what does it mean? Where does it come from? Is it okay to do this? I’ve always felt a lot of guilt about taking a perfect little tree and putting it in my home. It took years to grow and we cut it down to enjoy for just a few short weeks. It seems like such a terrible waste.

The Christmas Tree harkens back (like many other things about Christmas) to its roots as a pagan tradition. The tree represents the promise of spring in times of darkness and snow. When everything else is blanketed in white, when everything has gone dormant or died, the evergreen tree promises us that spring will return. In this way, we are able to get through the tough winters and find hope.

Nowadays, however, the tradition has been so diluted that it’s hard to appreciate the message. On top of that, many people adhering to this idea don’t suffer from winter in the same ways we used to. Indoor heating and plumbing make our lives much less difficult and the heat alone should remind us that spring isn’t far off. We go from climate controlled bubble to climate controlled bubble and rarely suffer what humanity once did (or still does, for those less fortunate than the more privileged middle and upper classes). It’s hard to justify cutting down trees for a tradition like this when it really comes down to it.

Despite my best efforts, this is sort of turning into a rant against Christmas trees. I recognize that many people now get their trees from tree farms and that this is much better than arbitrarily cutting down trees. I also realize that we cut down far more trees to make paper and furniture than we do for Christmas. My main point here is that the meaning of the tradition has been so lost that it feels like we don’t have the right to continue it lest we, at the very least, remember what it symbolizes. Mindless adherence to tradition is silly at worst and harmful at best.

When you look at that tree in your living room, remember what it means and appreciate it, especially if you live in a place with difficult winters. Remember that spring is ahead and that green things will come. Realize that, like the seasonal reminder, it also reminds us that difficult times in general will pass. Nothing lasts forever, and that includes trouble and adversity. Lift your head up and look forward, to the future.

Thanks to Liz and my brother for always helping me write comics when I need them.

I hope everyone had a pleasant Christmas, and I hope everyone is looking forward to the new year.