Warning: Xmas trees in the lot are larger than they appear!

Photo of Rev. Dr. Cathy HarringtonI don’t know about you, but this time of year evokes memories. Decorating our Christmas tree was especially joyful when my children were growing up. I spent hours searching for the perfect tree that we put up the day after Thanksgiving every year. My children and I strung popcorn and cranberries and generally made a big production (and a huge mess on the carpet) of the whole thing. The kids were eager participants until they became teenagers, and then I found myself hopelessly alone with the task. To salvage my sanity, I eventually bought wooden cranberries and abandoned the stringing popcorn thing. Not the best use of my time.

Wanting to relive the memories of my childhood growing up in a 100-year-old house with 12-foot ceilings, I was hopelessly driven to choose a tree that was at least a foot taller (or more) than the ceilings in our home. In my defense, it is hard to gage size when you are outdoors. Those beautiful Frazier Firs always seemed smaller in a wide-open space. Right?

My husband never minded that I consistently brought home a Times Square-sized Christmas tree because he secretly delighted in having an excuse to fire up that blasted chain saw. I’m pretty sure it stirred up some latent lumberjack fantasies.  But let me warn you, this is where “joyful” memories of Christmases past turn ugly.

At first, with my sweetest voice possible, I gently advised and guided him. “It just needs a tiny bit off the bottom. I don’t mind if it scrapes the ceiling a little, and I like it full. Just a little…” But moments after the initial roar of the chainsaw, the scent of fresh sap and pine needles coursing through the air the situation escalated into an all-out war with me screaming over the chainsaw and throwing myself in front of my poor tree crying, “PLEASE STOP!” Jim’s reply never varied; “Well if you didn’t always buy a #@&%*% redwood tree, I wouldn’t have to do this.” And then he would swagger off to the shed perversely satisfied, like Wyatt Earp after the gun fight at the OK Corral.

There would be a long silence for the next few hours at Green Meadow Farm. And God only knows how this ritual traumatized my children who tried to hide their horror by laughing hysterically. In the aftermath, while fighting back tears, I managed to salvage felled branches to make mantel arrangements and wreaths.

But the next day, I discovered as I poured out my grief and pain over the fate to my clients and co-workers at the hair salon that there were other families who endured perennial Christmas tree traumas. Turns out tree decorating isn’t always the storybook, happily ever after Hallmark moment. My behind the chair research revealed story after story of Christmas tree fights, pets of all kinds climbing the tree and having to hanging the tree from the ceiling or putting in the playpen or tying it to the walls, and other stories that can’t be repeated here.  Once, when a woman threw her live tree out in the yard after Christmas, a live opossum climbed out!

It helped to know I wasn’t alone. My recurring chainsaw tree trauma always seemed to resolve itself after a couple of days when the tree was adorned, and the spirit of the season lifted me out of my pout. Then I would stand before our stunningly decorated Christmas tree with pride and say “This is the prettiest tree we’ve ever had.”

May this holiday season be the best you’ve ever had.

In faith and love,
Rev. Cathy Harrington, Interim Lead Minister



Justice Ministry Opportunities

New to UU Asheville? Click below to learn about our on-going Anti-Racism Initiative

Putting Our Faith In Action

EDUCATION: Every Child NC continues to offer an opportunity for faith communities and others to host a free docu-series titled “All Together” that is focused on education equity. Help educate voters about the Leandro Plan and North Carolina’s obligation to meet student needs. Get details and a way to register here.

IMMIGRATION: “Creating a pathway to citizenship has never been more urgent. Just over a month ago, a federal court ruled that DACA is unlawful, compounding the uncertainty that immigrant youth have been forced to live with for years.” The National Immigration Law Center is asking people to sign this petition asking both NC senators to find a permanent solution for immigrant youth.

HOMELESSNESS: Winter Safe Shelter is a collaborative effort of Trinity United Methodist, Grace Covenant Presbyterian, Grace Episcopal, and Counterflow Asheville. They are seeking to serve and partner with our neighbors experiencing homelessness. The shelter is prioritizing intact families, BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color), and LGBTQ individuals. They currently have raised roughly half the budget needed to staff the shelter through the winter and are seeking donations from the community. You can find more information about the shelter as well as a place to donate here

REPARATIONS: The Reparations Stakeholders Authority of Asheville has created the RSAA Reparations FundHere is information on how people can learn and support this effort organized by the Tzedek Social Justice Fund.

ELECTIONS: Common Cause NC is asking people to express their thanks to all the election workers and volunteers that came forward to administer the midterm elections. You can sign on here.

UU Asheville’s On-going Anti-Racism Initiative: How Will You Get Involved?

What has been happening with the recommendations from the Racial Justice Advisory Council – RJAC? They are not collecting electronic dust!
The board has approved the recommendations and identified stakeholders responsible for making each of them happen. The Justice Ministry Council has been charged to be an accountability partner so that the recommendations are fulfilled. Currently, the top recommendations being worked on are
1. Education about the 8th Principle in preparation for the vote to adopt the 8th Principle at the June 2023 Congregational Meeting.
Stakeholder: 8th Principle Team and congregation. Please participate in the 8th Principle Learning Circles being offered by the various groups and committees of the congregation. Of course, that means lay leaders have said “yes” to hosting them. We need all of us to make this happen!
2. Identifying a consultant to provide an Equity Audit of our policies, procedures and governance model. This will apparently be the first time a UU congregation has such an audit. Yeah, UU Asheville!
Stakeholder: The board has asked board member Mary Alm and Rev. Claudia Jiménez, Justice Ministry lead, to identify, interview and recommend consultants who will provide proposals for board consideration.

Racial Justice Advisory Council (RJAC) Report: What’s that?
We strive to become a radically inclusive and welcoming congregation as we are called to do if UUism is to be the liberatory faith it can be. This work started with an internal assessment led by a board-appointed small team of congregants working in partnership with our Minister of Faith Development, Rev. Claudia Jiménez. Their learnings and recommendations known as the RJAC Report were shared with the congregation and the board. One of the top recommendations was to engage the congregation in learning about the proposed 8th Principle which aligns with the work of liberation. The 8th Principle Team was formed and is actively hosting Learning Circles, tabling on Sundays and exploring other ways to prepare the congregation to vote in the June congregational meeting to adopt the 8th Principle. They are creating space for all to discuss hope, fears and dreams as we consider this important vote.

The Proposed 8th Principle:

“We, the member congregations of the Unitarian Universalist Association, covenant to affirm and promote: journeying toward spiritual wholeness by working to build a diverse multicultural Beloved Community by our actions that accountably dismantle racism and other oppressions in ourselves and our institutions.”


Beloved Community happens when people of diverse racial, ethnic, educational, class, gender, abilities, sexual orientation backgrounds/identities come together in an interdependent relationship of love, mutual respect, and care that seeks to realize justice within the community and in the broader world.