Vashon’s tree: It speaks to the hope of the season | Editorial

In a community as small as Vashon’s, small things sometimes matter. And one of those small things is the location of this year’s Christmas tree.

Last year, the tree of choice stood like a lone sentry on the edge of Ober Park, a colorful beacon to those driving either direction on the highway. This year’s tree is tucked between U.S. Bank and another towering fir. One can take it in — in all its glory — only from the Thriftway parking lot.

Unfortunately, according to Debi Richards, the executive director of Vashon’s Chamber of Commerce, that fir in Ober Park was problematic. As she wrote in an email to someone who expressed dismay about this year’s tree location, hanging the lights on that tall fir last year took five days — not only because of the size of the tree but also because the chamber couldn’t roll heavy equipment onto the park’s grass. This year, the hanging — executed from a parking lot with the help of a ladder truck, cherry picker and lift — took a day and a half.

What’s more, last year’s tree experienced a high rate of light bulb mortality. Because of the tree’s size, the lights had to be hung vertically, Richards explained, a beautiful effect but one with costly results. Those strings of light were like a sailboat’s rigging, extremely vulnerable to the gusts of a fierce winter wind. Last year, the chamber had to replace $1,000 worth of lights, she said.

Finally, merchants and others active in the chamber wanted to see the holiday tree once again located in the center of town. The tree behind U.S. Bank, Richards said, seemed the best choice.

As the Islander who wrote to Richards pointed out, this year’s tree isn’t perfect. It doesn’t stand separate and apart. It doesn’t command quite the same attention.

But on these long, dark nights, that dignified fir, bedecked in lights and topped by a star, is still a lovely reminder — of civic pride, of the rugged beauty of nature, of something greater than ourselves.

Trees decorated in lights in the dark of winter are a Christian tradition, as well as a pagan one. Whether you see it as symbol of the spirit, reaching towards the heavens, or a reminder that winter will once again give way to spring, it’s a beautiful thing to behold.

We at The Beachcomber wish all Islanders a lovely Christmas and a warm holiday, however you choose to celebrate it. And if you have a moment, stand back and take in that glorious tree, a symbol of hope, beauty and Vashon’s strong community spirit.


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