It’s back! I was walking in the place where I usually walk the other day, rejoicing in the fact that I could still walk outside after the massive snowstorm tracked to the north. (The fact that the windchills are subzero was not stopping me, no way. I’m tough like that.) I rounded the bend and came upon the small tree and discovered that it had indeed been decorated for the year.
If you remember, tree decorations pop up in the place where I walk every year, usually around this time. The tree captivates me. For years I thought it was a sweet gesture done by students, a way of spreading holiday cheer in every corner of campus. Then I wondered if it had another meaning, created by someone who has lived here past several generations of students. Maybe it’s a tribute to loss: a lost friend, a lost child, a lost identity or idea.
These reasons say much more about me than anything, pointing to my own losses and the way I have made the tree a symbol of my own. But the tree means something to someone, a symbol of something. Maybe it’s simply a nice tradition a few employees do every year, but that still makes it symbolic. There’s something sacred about the not knowing. It’s a sacredness I encounter every time I walk around the bend and see the tinsel swaying in the cold wind.
Last year the tree sparked my creativity and the story I wrote about it (full of ritual and loss) became my first published story. Read the story here at Foliate Oak. And if you read that much, you might as well also read an earlier post I wrote about the tree, too.