Oh evergreen unchanging...for the most part. :) Even the most steadfast traditions change from time to time, as I am coming to find (and reluctantly accept). Of all the Christmas traditions in my family, the tree was probably the one taken most-seriously.
From the time that I could walk, my mother and I would go out every year into the woods (and I don't mean a Christmas tree farm...I mean the real woods...lions and tigers and bears, oh my woods) and we would hunt for our perfect tree. Because we were not on a Christmas tree farm, most of the trees that we found were a bit on the...um...scrawny side. But scrawny was just exactly how my mother liked them best. In fact, some years we had to cut down two little ones and tie them together with bailing twine in order to create enough branches to constitute an actual Christmas tree. Then we'd load it up in the truck and we'd head home to set it up and decorate.
I'm telling you, Charlie Brown has nothing on my dear mother. She would hang every strand of lights, ever ornament, every length of tinsel (not matter how mangy) that she had ever owned, on that tiny little tree. How those trees every remained standing I have no idea but they were perfect and beautiful and it was our tradition together.
One year I created a paper angel (I think I was in Brownies at the time if that helps you to put the time frame into perspective). My mother fell in love with that angel and since it's creation, it has been at the top of every Christmas tree.
I remember one year in particular, my mother had been very ill and was in the hospital. A few family members decided they would surprise mom and bring her a store-bought Christmas tree (live but full and beautiful). Those poor unfortunate souls didn't realize what they had done. I have never seen my mother so upset and angry. Hahaha. I still laugh when I think about it. She drug that tree outside and hacked off about two-thirds of its branches. Even then, she was not happy about it.
When Mike and I were first married we still had live trees. Now our tree is fake (pre-lit) and the only ornaments I can hang are a few non-breakable ones, which have to stay a good three feet up the tree.
But a few things haven't changed. My paper angel still sits at the top every year. I still sit for a few minutes every night and just look at the tree and soak up the beautiful feelings that it inspires. I still think of my angel mother and shed a few tears for the Christmas that is coming that I won't be able to spend with her. Traditions may change slightly, but the feelings that inspire them are constant. I hope that we all can enjoy our Christmas trees, whatever they may look like...and that, most importantly, we will cherish the memories with loved ones here and those who we will be with again one day.