“…freshly cut Christmas trees smelling of stars and snow and pine resin – inhale deeply and fill your soul with wintry night…” ― John Geddes, A Familiar Rain

Two days ago I asked for Christmas tree pictures via Instagram. I didn’t have an agenda other than I missed scenes of the season outside of my home. One of my favorite things about this time of year is visiting places and people and getting access into creative and festive environments. For me, the Christmas tree is always revealing and reverent. It’s a display of adventure, a celebration of love, and a mark of memories. It’s truly a moving and palpable cue for Christmas, which clearly renders me emotional.

Slowly but surely pictures appeared. Tree after tree made their way to me. I noticed two things: I was instantly happy by the time people took to participate and that while some were similar in stature, no tree was exactly identical. Ah, Christmas. It’s not only an anticipatory event, but an educational one as well.

Far too often we worry about conformity or normalcy as if there’s something wrong with being different or unique. My tree has rainbow lights. Almost all of the trees sent to me had white lights. And so began an introspective and familial question of, “is our tree okay?” To begin, this had already been a hot topic that left my husband and I thinking and feeling differently. And to be clear, we have two trees, with the second one bearing white lights. But our big tree, our family tree, the tree that displays our stories via ornaments is adorned in rainbow bulbs. For just a few seconds I doubted our decision, comparing my own to others. And let’s be clear, I do this all the time via social media. Despite knowing and preaching the value of individuality, I am also cognizant of my comparisons. It’s not necessarily a matter of prevention as it is the ability to push through.

When I looked at the trees I saw the varying heights, widths, and locations. Some stood tall and narrow in the corner while others won center stage with their stoutness and star on full display. But each was so unbelievably beautiful and again, made much more special because it was shared with me.

This Christmas there’s a lot to talk about. If 2020 has given us anything, it’s a lot of material to explore and emphasize. Let’s talk love. The most simple thing, like Christmas trees, can fill a newsfeed or more importantly, a person’s heart, with joy. I am finding I fight off homesickness best with simple visuals that carry significance and sentiment. So share a tree, ornament, or anything festive with me. Also, don’t forget to push through feelings of insecurity, questions of comparison, and/or doubt. There’s light on the other side.