I Didn’t Buy a Christmas Tree This Year
Do You Want to Know Why?
Have you got your tree yet?
Out of all the traditions and celebrations, picking a Christmas tree is one of my favorite activities of the year.
When I was living in Northern California, my family used to organize an outing to visit our favorite tree farm after getting hot cocoa. Decorating the tree and enjoying the lights and its wonderful scent was a daily joy for a full month.
In New York City, the tradition changed slightly; we went ice-skating in Central Park and we brought back home, by foot, a nice tall tree coming directly from Canada.
So why didn’t we buy a Christmas tree this year?
Our daughters expected it. The Canadian team had set-up their cute shack house a few blocks away from our apartment like every year.
“Tell me again why we’re doing this? And, whose idea was it anyway?” our 15-year-old daughter kept asking, frowning with her arms crossed.
My Simple Why
“We can’t keep destroying our planet to satisfy our selfish little needs,” I told her.
Deforestation is a serious issue. Greatly accelerated by human activities since 1960, deforestation has been negatively affecting natural ecosystems, biodiversity, and the climate.
The Real Why
Yet, there is another reason, a deeper one for which I have difficulty finding words.
Back in early March, I wrote an opinion piece, “How I made sense of the Coronavirus,” and when I considered buying our annual Christmas tree, it all came back crystal clear.
Challenging the Way Things Are
First, this decision is about asking myself difficult questions and challenging the way I live.
As a fractional CMO leading teams at different organizations, I have the opportunity to observe great leaders with the ability to ask powerful questions and remain open to the idea of not knowing.
If I really care about deforestation or climate change, what am I doing to support this feeling?
Caring about issues is not enough today. Acting is what matters. Whether it is in our business or personal lives, we are called to act and show our authentic self through our personal coherence.
In this context, execution is the new Queen.
Giving Myself Permission
Second, this experiment was rooted in the simple act of giving myself permission to not follow a family tradition, and instead, to do something different.
How do you break away from the status quo? How do you change a group’s habits — your family, friends or an organization — while staying engaged?
I’ve been fascinated recently by those very questions and others like:
- What kind of space and what conditions are essential for each of us to live fully?
- When we don’t tell people what to do, what do they need to start creating something new?
- What are the conditions that would empower us to create outside the traditional and conditioned roles for leadership/parenting and the traditional way we do things?
I don’t know when the false idea of anthropocentrism or humanocentrism first appeared, however, it led us to see Nature as plants, animals, and landscapes, but not humans. As a result, we forgot that, as living beings, the first principle that defines our human relationships is symbiosis.
Symbiosis is any type of close, long-term biological interaction between two different biological organisms, be it mutualistic, commensalistic, or parasitic.
Recognizing that our relationships are symbiotic in essence, I reflected and decided to give my family space and time to contemplate the new idea. I listened to their various perspectives. I knew that giving myself permission to be authentic and coherent with my own individual beliefs could damage our relationships, if I made it into a win/lose power struggle.
In the end, we collaborated and agreed to replace our traditional Christmas tree: we added more lights in the inside of our apartment to make it look Christmas-y and experimented with various tree forms, as you’ll see in the video below.
The Secret to Dealing with Uncertainty
Finally, re-evaluating our tradition was a way for me, and by extension for my family, to step outside my comfort zone and create a space for something new to emerge.
It provided us with a rare opportunity to consciously choose to learn to deal with uncertainty and recognize the feelings of unease and doubt that come with change.
Changing traditions and the way we do things is a way to adapt and unlearn. In light of society’s current disruption, this appears to be one of the best ways to carry ourselves into a new world of relationships and building businesses. To see the present, not through the filter of the past, but how it is evolving.
I’ve been nurturing my curiosity for a while now through various practices. When it’s combined with improvisation, marvelous things can emerge — like this upcoming training on Fluid Co-Creation:
Want to See What We Did Instead of a Tree?
Our first attempt, using recycled cardboard, came out horrendous. Watch the making of the tree replacement in this video, which triggered some good laughs with extended family members and friends.
Seeing the devastated faces of our daughters saying, “Now, this is depressing,” we opted for a book tree, small but cute enough to lift our Christmas spirits!
What about you?
What choices are you making to find your personal and professional coherence?