A Cowboy’s Faith: Changing trees remain spiritual

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.Christmas trees have gone through a lot of fads in the past six decades.

All of the specially decorated Christmas tree shows so popular nowadays makes one reflect what has come and gone.

Origin and history of Christmas trees varies widely according to the source, country and time. Generally, Germany is credited with starting today’s Christmas tree tradition in the 16th century, while other reports go back much earlier.

Devout Christians symbolically brought decorated evergreen trees into their homes. A green, thriving tree in the winter reminded people of hope, new and everlasting life promised by Christ’s birth

For a number of years, fir trees served the tradition for many families. Right before Thanksgiving, the produce distributor unloaded an alley full of various sized fir trees at the family grocery store.

They were priced by height, three-footers about a buck. Taller ones went up to $3 for those reaching the ceiling.

A dozen fir trees were displayed for sale at the storefront with persnickety customers carefully evaluating each one. A number of buyers wanted theirs delivered, making a mess in the delivery wagon, or blowing off the top carrier.

Quite differently shaped, most would consider more attractive, pine trees, both long and short needle varieties, increased in popularity. Higher priced, harder to handle, they soon replaced fir trees.

Somebody decided the pine trees ought to be painted, often white, decorated with colored balls enhanced by revolving light.

Aluminum trees came shortly after, displayed semblance to the painted trees.

Then fake trees were created – evergreen lookalikes. They’ve remained popular and are still found in many homes.

Those on the farm cut cedar trees out of the pasture for home Christmas decorating. There really weren’t that many cedars until conservationists encouraged windbreak plantings and birds spread populations.

Some early Christmas trees were hung upside down from the ceiling to save space. The dairy farmers across the section did that, but it seemed an awkward unnecessary task to the cowboy visitor.

In 2004, Pope John Paul called the Christmas tree a symbol of Christ. “This very ancient custom,” he said, “exalts the value of life. As in winter what is evergreen becomes a sign of undying life.”

One’s reminded of Genesis 2:9: “God made all kinds of trees The tree-of-life in the middle of the garden, the tree-of-knowledge-of-good-and-evil.”


030615-franksmug2Frank J. Buchman is a lifelong rancher from Alta Vista, a lifetime newspaper writer, syndicated national ag writer and a radio marketing consultant. He writes a weekly column to share A Cowboy’s Faith.


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