The Christmas Tree: Life’s triumph over death


Our Island Christmas Tree

The winter solstice was a day of reckoning for ancient people. When the Egyptians noticed the nights getting colder, and the days getting shorter, they were afraid that the sun was disappearing and the Earth would freeze. They looked around and noticed that some of the plants and trees remained green. Believing that these evergreens had magical powers and would appease the gods, they brought them into their homes.

Not having evergreen trees, the Egyptians cut green date palm leaves and scattered them throughout their homes to symbolize life’s triumph over death. And…the Christmas tree was born! Now, living on a tropical island presents some problems trying to find a suitable Christmas tree. Like the ancient Egyptians, we have no evergreen trees either.

I was lamenting that there were no Christmas trees on the island, when I saw our young friend, Izzy, carting a strange, yet beautiful pole to our house. “You said you wanted a Christmas tree, so I made you one,” Izzy said as she handed me her amazing creation.

Delicate newspaper cranes, dried mango leaves, and an assortment of tropical bird feathers adorned the tree. “Izzy, it’s perfect!” I said, kind of teary eyed at the thoughtfulness of her gift. “Let’s make some more ornaments.”

I’ve collected Pre-Columbian pottery shards that wash up on my beach for years. With some copper wire and ribbon, we wrapped the ancient shards and hung them on the tree. I returned from the states with one wire of twinkling lights and a star from the Dollar Store. We hung the shining star above the tree, as a symbol of bringing forth the light.

Life’s triumph over death hit close to home on Sunday. A very close friend of ours was involved in a horrific motorcycle crash on the island. Robinson escaped with his life, but one of his friends wasn’t as fortunate. Robinson was transferred to a hospital in Managua, across the lake in a small ponga boat. For two days, he could only speak in English, not understanding his native language. The mind works in mysterious ways.

He’s recovering comfortably at home today. I think I’m going to keep my Christmas tree up year-round to remind me of the precious gifts life has to offer. Life is so short…it can change in an instant. Like the ancient Egyptians, my little handmade Christmas tree will be an everlasting symbol of life’s triumphs over death.