I am a man of convictions. And I believe the tree speaks of a simpler, quieter, self-evident truth far more mysterious than that of Christian tradition, Capitalism, Paganism, or Coca-cola: that of unconditional love. Forgive me for the sentimental U-turn, but have you read Shel Silverstein’s “The Giving Tree”? Perhaps this is an unfashionable stand-by, but the profound mystery of that story is undeniable: nature, uncorrupted by selfish causes, gives itself over to the world, generously, and without fault, in spite of common sense, in spite of certain death, in spite of the alleged antagonism of Darwinian Theory–survival of the fittest. Nature loves you. God loves you. I love you. And, even now, standing proud in your living room, the Christmas tree loves you, too … Yes, the earth abides by reckless laws, wreaking havoc on our daily lives, upending all manners of civic and social convenience, but it does so most certainly without deliberate wickedness. It is simply running its course. (“The sun shone, having no alternative”–Samuel Beckett). Would that we could say the same for mankind, which is running a course steadfast into oblivion.
— Sufjan Stevens, from his essay “An Examination of the Christmas Tree Fetish” in the liner notes for Silver & Gold