Monday, December 21, 2015

The Value of Ugly Christmas Trees

Here's an idea for the parents of young kids. I blew my chance. I could do it now, but my boys are a little old to get the full impact.

It's not a new idea, exactly. Charles Schulz presented it to the world in his Charlie Brown Christmas episode, but in the episode, it happened sort of by accident: Charlie Brown messed up and got an ugly little tree (though, he did intentionally choose a real tree in a sea of aluminium ones). The Peanuts characters discovered, as a result of this accident, that they could make the ugly beautiful.

How great an idea would it be, though, for parents of young kids to purposefully pick out the ugliest Christmas tree on the lot and to bring it home to make beautiful?

I wish we had done it. I can see us standing on the lot, the boys' little eyes searching around. I can see myself saying, "So, what about this tree? It has a big hole on one's crooked on's kind of a weak green. No one is going to buy it, but I'll bet we can make it beautiful..."

Imagine the educational value; the creative power it would have given the boys; the visible evidence of what a family can do together; the acceptance of the idea that life is never perfect but that is can be made more perfect; the lesson in the value of optimism; the conveyance of the message that there is beauty in difference and that there is even beauty in ugliness. "Beauty is truth, truth beauty," after all.

In my mind, I see, nestled in a branch-less gap turned unashamedly toward the front, a little cluster of Nativity figures, gently lit to a buttery yellow by surrounding string lights and I wish that our tree, this year, had such a deformity in it.

Alas. Maybe you can do it with your kids.


  1. I like this idea it’s very cool and can show values to children, in an age where everything is always wanted new and perfect I think it would be fantastic to show that yeah this tree might not have built in Led lights and a flashy star built at the top but instead it’s a tree that we will decorate our- self and spoof it up a little to add character, and it may not be the best looking tree but it’s our tree.

    - A student in your 8th period class

    1. And in this "age of perfection" it almlst always seems like the opposite of everything is a little better. Great point!