I get tired of people reminding me that there’s a “Reason for the Season.”  Of course there’s a reason for the season, but I’m going to bet they didn’t say that to acknowledge my reason or even to show respect for the right of each of us in the United States to have our own reason for the season. No, more than likely, the people that make that reminder want me to accept their reason for the season. They want me to agree that there’s only one reason for the season, and I’m just not sure I’ll ever understand the need to do that.

If you celebrate Christmas (or Xmas or however you want to write it), there is, in fact, a “Reason for the Season,” but that reason is personal to each of us, and that’s okay. My reason for celebrating doesn’t hurt yours in any way, and I promise that how or even why you celebrate Christmas isn’t going to hurt mine.

We don’t celebrate a traditional Christmas at my house. We don’t go to church, and we don’t have a ceramic nativity scene on the mantel. In fact, we’ve taken to some pretty crazy, but truly loved Christmas traditions here in this house.

A few years ago, we grew tired of dragging out the Christmas tree (or worse yet, going to a lot and dragging a live one home), digging out the decorations, and putting it all up. We really dreaded carefully taking it all down and packing it carefully back in the boxes. Sheer laziness: that’s how our latest Christmas tradition was born.  With an affirmative vote from our teenage daughter, we decided that each year, we’d try to put together the gaudiest, ugliest Christmas tree we could for under $50. That’s right: under $50.

The first year, we found a 3.5’ silver (with iridescent shimmer), pre-lit tree. We adorned it with pink and blue balls, blue sequined tinsel and a giant silver star (all for under $30).  Last year we had a four foot, purple, metallic tree with glitter fairy ornaments, fake purple gems, and pink and purple balls. A pink sock monkey adorned the top of the tree. This year we found a 4’ blue metallic tree (pre-lit). It’s decorated with blue metallic birds (with real feather tails), clear glass balls with white feathers in them, small silver stars, and these bizarre pink glitter balls that look like Liberace ordered an old-timey diver’s mask. After, searching and searching Big Lots for the perfect tree topper, we found a catnip-filled mermaid that worked perfectly, and we did all of that for under $40.

Some might turn their nose up at this new Armstrong tradition. They might say that our tradition just doesn’t sound like Christmas to them, and that’s okay. You don’t have to like our Christmas tradition.  What I know is that my daughter turns sixteen at the end of this month, and anything that lets the two of us spend time together laughing, talking, and generally having fun is absolutely worth it. If it’s walking around Big Lots for an hour finding hilarious ornaments and then spending another hour putting it all together perfectly, then so be it. It’s perfect – for us. If you don’t like it, don’t do it. It’s that simple.

I believe that the “reason for the season is family and friends – spending time with the people I love and showing them that I love them by doing special things with and for them. To me, it’s not about spending a lot of money or celebrating religiously. It’s about being with the people you love and sharing time, laughter, and joy, as well as showing them that you care about them any way you can.  If that’s with a catnip mermaid tree topper, then that’s fine with me. Yes. There is a “Reason for the Season.” It’s personal – to each of us, and that’s okay. I promise.

Xmas Tree 2011 – The Silver Iridescent Tree

Xmas Tree 2012 – The Purple Sock Monkey Tree

Xmas Tree 2013 – The Feather Mermaid Tree


©2013 Andy Armstrong. All Rights Reserved.