Have You Read Your Tree Lately?

Our Christmas trees talk. (No, I haven’t been sniffing the pine-scented room spray while decorating.) When we festoon the branches with baubles and bows, we are writing a kind of story for our families.

Turner Tree 2010

As a newlywed, the financial expenditure of a tree and ornaments was a big deal. I found a box of wooden ornaments on clearance at K-Mart. I think the box escaped from the Island of Misfit Toys. There were wooden nutcrackers with no arms, angels with broken wings, dolls and bears with missing ears or eyes painted on the wrong side of their heads. They matched the condition of our lives at the time.

My mother-in-law’s Christmas trees are always beautifully decorated. Her trees were the first themed trees I ever saw. Shortly after her mother died, she had an angel tree, decorated all in white with inherited angel ornaments. At the time I thought it was just pretty, now I see the story — her mother’s story — in the decorating.

The year she was away from home, my father-in-law and future hubby decorated the tree by themselves. With lights. Nothing but lights. Colored, clear, twinkling, chasing, big and small, all on one tree. It was a sad tree. Like a flashy book cover with blank pages inside.

My family’s tree was one of those tattered scrapbooks, filled with memories from cover to cover. We got the same kind of tree every year, had the same lights every year, and used the same ornaments every year, with a few additions here and there. The topper was a construction paper angel with gold cardboard hair my mom made. She let me draw the face on the angel (I was 3 or so). Every year, into my teens, that angel stared down at me with her black Crayola unibrow.

Chickadee, paper birdhouse, and thrift store mystery bird.

Over the years, we’ve had a brightly colored gypsy Bohemian tree with oversized ornaments and glittery star garland; an all white bridal tree with tulle and feathers and a dove; and the country Christmas tree with plaid ribbons and tiny baskets of popcorn. The year I was too busy to get the tree decorated in time to suit the boys, they decorated it by themselves. I called it the Technicolor Yawn Tree. It looked like someone hurled the contents of the decorating boxes onto the tree and ran away. I cried for three days.

I think I’m finally finished decorating the tree this year. Although, as with all creative processes, it’s difficult to stop messing with it and call it done. There are birds roosting in my tree this year. I like birds. God always uses them in Scripture as references to His loving care and provision. He is our provider, and He’ll see to us just as surely as He sees to the birds outside my window.

Bird garland from plain white copy paper.

I have yet to wake up and see a bird outside with a foreclosure notice on its nest. When the hummingbirds appear each spring, staring boldly into my windows and demanding their food, I respond. If I’ll respond to a hummingbird, surely God responds to His children when we call on Him!

So this year, I suppose the theme of our tree is faith and trust in God’s provision. A timely message, not just for our family, but for our nation right now.


If you “read” your Christmas tree like a book, what kind of story does it tell this year?

As part of our “freegan” Christmas, I made do with what I had this year instead of heading to Walmart for new stuff. The bird garland, tiny birdhouses, chickadees and cardinals are all homemade paper crafts I found online. I did buy the funny looking bird (no one can tell me if it’s a partridge, a quail, or some imaginary birdie) for 50 cents at the thrift store.

2 thoughts on “Have You Read Your Tree Lately?

  1. Cheryl Klarich says:

    Oh Niki!!!
    I love how you took the tree personality test and ran with it! I can so relate to the changes over the years, the mini-evolution of the Christmas tree.

    Mine has become more elegant with time… my Mom gives us beautiful hand blown ornaments every year… So as I get older, the tree gets more beautiful.

    That thrift store bird looks like it got away with something and is very comfortable on your tree!
    Gotta love the birds!

  2. Niki Turner says:

    Oh Cheryl, "elegant" is my dream for my tree. Someday I'll have a tree with pink velvet and ecru lace… How many years till these boys grow up???
    : )

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