It’s official: I am no longer a college kid. And why is it only official now? Why didn’t the diplomas that have been on my wall for two years make it official? Why wasn’t walking across the stage at Goodman Stadium to receive said diplomas the culmination of my college experience? What could possibly be a more definitive ending to such an important time in my life? The importance of these events could only be eclipsed by one thing: the retirement of my beloved three feet tall fake Christmas tree that has been with me since freshman year at Lehigh. This year will be the first year it won’t make an appearance.
To most people, the commencement ceremony and diplomas probably hold a far greater value over a $40 fake tree that is only slightly more impressive than that of Charlie Brown fame. But to me, this little tree represents much more. It represents my Lehigh family, the memories I created with them, and my home away from home.
Originally, the tree was my way to bring a little personal Christmas spirit to my dorm room. But from the very first year, it was apparent that this tree would do more than that. From gathering people in my freshman hall to help me decorate it with ornaments made at Make and Take, to getting the roommates together sophomore year to watch favorite childhood Christmas movies (who knew “The Best Christmas Ever!” was such a theatrical masterpiece?), to having a “tree-off” decorating contest junior year, to providing the holiday cheer in the third-floor “penthouse” of our off-campus house senior year, and trying to keep our illegal house cat from batting the ornaments off it our fifth year, this tree was the center of many happy memories. And each year as I dust off the little guy to get it ready for a new round of memories, these moments with my friends who became family rush back to me and bring a smile to my face.
Although my little tree will get relegated to the back of the “holiday closet” this year to be replaced by a genuine, pine-smelling, fire hazard which needs to be watered more often than a newborn baby needs a diaper change, the unforgettable friendships it has lead to come alive yet again at this magical time of year. Even when it’s out of sight, this seasonal sapling reminds me of my Lehigh family and makes me bittersweet for life at Lehigh. So whether it’s old photos, a favorite song, or simply a fake Christmas tree that floods you with memories, do yourself a favor and allow your mind to wander back to Lehigh. You just might find a smile on your face more often.
And to the person who said you can’t buy happiness: it will be in the clearance section of Target after the holidays – just look for the three foot tall Colorado pine.