The Birthday Tree
Submitted by Devon Macey
With a December 22nd birthday, I am often referred to in my family as the “Christmas baby”. In elementary school, I was constantly asked: “Do you get presents for your birthday AND Christmas?” Although twice the presents around the same time of year is a definite bonus growing up, there were some downsides to turning 8 in the middle of the Christmas school break. Obviously, December is a busy and hectic time of year for most families, so having a birthday party doesn’t always fit easily in the calendar. Although my birthday parties were rarely in December (Looking in old photo albums, it seems that most were either in late November or early January), my mom made a point to work the Christmas theme in. This was mostly done through a Christmas tree that was referred to as my ‘birthday tree’. Yes, we technically have two Christmas trees in our house during the holidays, but both have very different purposes.
My birthday tree is artificial, so come December, (or in various school grades, late November) when it’s “time to get the birthday tree out” part of the tradition would be me struggling to assemble the branches to the stem and trying not to break any of the glass ornaments. The tree has always been set up in the front of our house, since our the real Christmas tree is located in the back room just before Christmas day. The birthday tree is always the first sign of the holidays in our house and once everything around the tree has been set up, the rest of the house will follow shortly after. On the day of my birthday, presents would be put under the tree and I would open gifts with friends and family gathered around.
Over the years, the whole ‘birthday tree’ has become one of our best-known family traditions, and something unique that it is always neat to explain to guests. Christmas crafts I had made in school through the years are kept in a huge Rubbermaid container in our shed, which my Dad pulls out every December. Decorating the tree with these crafts- which include a light bulb reindeer I made in grade 2, (which is now missing a goodly eye) some popsicle Santas, and of course the popular pipe-cleaner candy cane- is always a nostalgic experience and a time to laugh and reflect over my (debatable) craft skills. Over the years, I’ve also received ornaments, most of which have a special significance like “baby’s first Christmas”, and different hanging bulbs with a year and number of every birthday. Looking back in photos, it’s pretty awesome to see myself a little bit taller and older next to the tree, with the various crafts and decorations and lights changing slightly from year to year.
The birthday tree really does play a large part in the visual representation and symbolic time of my birthday, but more importantly, it is also a part in our family’s tradition of transition into the holiday season.