MEEKER I This holiday season may you find yourselves among family and friends and in the spirit of giving. Imagine if you will, 100 years ago in Meeker or Rangely, the weather cold, transportation extremely limited and Christmas shopping unheard of.
Gifts were handmade and want lists were significantly shorter. Perhaps the simplicity of the season made the opportunity to be together easier to appreciate. The concept of no social media or the marketing frenzy that comes with the holiday season offers a great deal of appeal.
Family traditions were often similar. Chores had to be done, perhaps families gathered to enjoy dinner together or play card games. One tradition that has lived on is that of cutting a Christmas tree. This area offers amazing opportunities in tree selection. So great are the choices, the 2012 Capitol Christmas Tree was selected from a nearby forest.
Perhaps the tradition of going out with family, selecting the perfect tree, cutting it down and then managing to get it back home was and is what the Christmas spirit is partially about: working together to accomplish a job as a family.
The history of the Christmas tree dates back to the seventh century, when a monk from Credition, Devonshire, England, went to Germany doing missionary work.
Legend has it he used the triangular shape of the fir tree to describe the Holy Trinity.
People began to believe it was “God’s tree” and the fir took the place of the oak tree. By the 12th century, trees were hung upside down to symbolize Christianity.
Trees were first decorated at Riga, Latvia, in 1510.
Martin Luther is said to have decorated a small Christmas tree with candles, to show his children how the stars twinkled through the dark night.
The decorating became more elaborate as the best record we have is that of a visitor to Strasbourg in 1601. He records a tree decorated with “wafers and golden sugar-twists (barley sugar) and paper flowers of all colors.”
The early trees were biblically symbolic of the Paradise Tree in the Garden of Eden. The many food items were symbols of Plenty, the flowers, originally only red (for Knowledge) and White (for Innocence).”
By the 17th century, the Christmas tree made its way to England with the Georgian kings.
In 1846, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert were pictured with their children around a Christmas tree and, as they were well liked by the people, the tradition really took off, making its way to America. (christmasarchives.com/trees.html)
This is a tradition that has come a long way, from a time when women spent countless hours making decorations and crafts and food items. As time passed, glass ornaments were introduced and today there is certainly an art to the perfect tree.
For some it is a tree decorated in all the same color. To others, it is covered in homemade crafts from their children. But for all who use the Christmas tree, it is as original as the history itself and still presents great nostalgia for the season.
Regardless of how you decorated your tree or what it meant to you, the hope is that it was done with family and friends, and time spent enjoying it didn’t overshadow the foundation on which it was established.
The idea of Christmas is not about monetary gifts, but that the gift of love is to be shared and the spirit of giving truly is placed at the top of every Christmas list.