Christmas prep is in full swing in our home right now and we’re busy wrapping, baking, crafting and decorating. The kids have been playing holiday music non-stop and have been counting down the minutes until our family gets together. To help them slow down a bit and truly savor the holiday season, I brought them to the kitchen table and had them work on some of our edible decorations for our “Bird Tree”. It’s a long-standing tradition in the Anderson Family to not only have a tree inside for the humans to enjoy, but to decorate a tree outside for our feathered friends too.
Our Father started this tradition when we were kids. Dad had a weird thing for Cardinals. He really, really liked them. He loved that the males were fiery red and prominent and that the females were small, brown and chipper. He loved that they were partners for life. He loved that they always came to visit him. Dad would watch the Cardinals out on the back deck, overlooking the water, and just smile. If you knew our Dad, this vision would cause a wry smile to creep upon your face right now because Dad loved to fish, chop wood, shoot pool and fix things – listening to cute birds singing in the yard wasn’t something you’d expect from him.
So when our Father started decorating the “Bird Tree” one year, we thought he had truly lost his marbles. He only used red and green lights (port and starboard colors) and started popping up bags of popcorn. We were old enough to be amused, but young enough to fall in love with our father all over again. Dad was like that – gruff, tough and Norton fisherman-looking on the outside, but so full of love, kindness and family-first on the inside.
Dad’s been gone awhile now, but one of the ways we keep his memory alive is to decorate the “Bird Tree”. It sounds very fancy and all, but in reality, any bush, shrub or sapling will do. The most important part is to decorate it with love and gratitude in your heart. We always do this at Christmastime, but any time of the year will do. That’s why you see so many bird crafts on our site — we do them with our children to keep our Father’s memory alive. From Recycled Pipe Cleaner Bottle Bird Feeders to DIY Bird Seed Feeders, to Pine Cone Bird Feeders to Milk Carton Bird Feeders, we get the kids involved at every level so they too can connect with their Grandfather.
Legend says that Cardinals are messengers from above and that the males’ bright, fiery-red coloring is meant to catch our attention, especially during times of grief or sadness. Males and females are also always together – and although you notice the male right away, the female is there too – you just have to look for her. Legend has it that this is to make us stop in our tracks and search for a deeper meaning to the thought or problem at hand. They also always sing together reminding us that we are not alone. If you pay attention, you’ll be surprised at how often a Cardinal crosses your path – there’s a lovely couple sitting outside my window right now…
Anyways, I’ve gotten a bit off track. Before I go to spend a much needed two weeks snuggling with my kids, I wanted to include some information below about Share a Tree. It’s a neat partnership between Green is Universal and the Arbor Day Foundation and is a great way to help them plant more trees. So grab a cup of tea and make your own digital tree to share online so that the Arbor Day Foundation can plant trees all across the United States. Click here to decorate and Share a Tree!
About Share a Tree:
Green is Universal and the Arbor Day Foundation have teamed up once again for their annual Share a Tree campaign. This year, for every digital tree shared before the end of December, the Arbor Day Foundation will plant a tree and for every 25,000 shared, Green is Universal will donate $5,000. They’ve created a virtual forest and people can visit the site, decorate a tree and easily share it on social media. Included in the forest are about 40 trees that were drawn by celebrities like Al Roker, Dolvett Quince and Meredith Vieira and if people don’t feel like decorating their own tree, they can share a “Celebratree” instead. Watch the #ShareATree hashtag, too, because if you RT or share someone else’s tree, that counts, too!!
P.S. Our family is a proud supporter of the National Arbor Day Foundation. Ever since I first received my first mailing from them way back in January 2011, I’ve been a fan. Our parents raised us to be mindful of the environment and to have a solid love of nature. They instilled this into us by always keeping a garden and planting trees at every home we lived in. My mother found much solace in planting a tree for each of her children and watching them bloom year after year. Like our parents, I also plant trees (or shrubs) for each of my children at each of the homes that we’ve lived in. It is a lovely way to help the Earth and teach your children the important lesson of patience.
Disclaimer: I will receive a gift from Green Is Universal and the Arbor Day Foundation for writing this post. All pictures were provided by Green Is Universal and the Arbor Day Foundation.0