It’s the most wonderful time of the year. As I write this, it’s the last day of Hanukkah, Christmas is right around the corner, and the New Year comes shortly thereafter. I know my family is excited to celebrate Christmas and spend some time together.
Across South Dakota and around the world, families are celebrating beautiful traditions to ring in the holiday season. As we celebrate these traditions, it’s important for us to take a step back and remember why we practice them in the first place.
Christmas trees are one of my favorite holiday celebrations. Every year in millions of homes across the country and around the world, we decorate evergreen trees to celebrate Christmas. It’s easy to take for-granted that this is just something that we do, but there’s a purpose for this tradition.
Christmas trees are a symbol of rebirth and renewal. Every winter, the cold comes, the snow falls, and the sun shows its face less and less. But these beautiful Christmas trees stand tall, beautiful, and green, promising us that spring is not far off. The weather will warm; the green will return to our landscape; our future is bright.
Just like Christmas itself, these trees remind us that life and beauty are still present even during the coldest and darkest times. I’m reminded of A Charlie Brown Christmas, when Charlie Brown famously asks, “Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?” His best friend Linus reminds him of Jesus’ birth. And then the kids decorate a tiny little Christmas tree, and they manage to make it so beautiful.
Linus’ reminder to Charlie Brown is perhaps the most beautiful symbol of rebirth and renewal for our world. Christmas reminds us that Jesus came to a world that was cold and dark. A little baby was born to save us all, and his birth brought the promise of everything that he would do for us.
That’s an important reminder in every season of life. But it rings especially true this year. We’ve faced new, unique challenges this year in South Dakota and around the world, and COVID-19 has been the toughest. People have lost their livelihoods. Many folks, especially in the vulnerable population, have had to drastically change their day-to-day lives. And – most heartbreaking of all – so many families have lost loved-ones.
But even during difficult times like this – especially during difficult times – we must remember that we will get through this together. No matter how cold and dark the season, we can look at the green branches of the Christmas tree and remember that spring is on its way.
I hope that you and yours have a truly Merry Christmas. If you’re celebrating another holiday, then happy holidays to you as well. Let’s remember the Christmas tree’s promise of rebirth and renewal. I’m so excited for what the future has in store for all of us.