In 2005 many religious leaders have begun to discuss the appropriateness of a personalized Christmas. One student of religion mentioned this discussion during a recent visit to a Los Angles California Temple Visitors' Center. This Center stands adjacent to the California Temple of the Church of Latter Day Saints. The Center provided the setting for a monthly meeting of a local interfaith group. After their meeting, members of that group got a tour of the Center. They then had an opportunity to see just how the members of that Church had interpreted the phrase "personalized Christmas."
The Center did not have Holiday trees. It had several groups of Christmas trees, but the decorations on the trees served to underline the Center's attempt at the personalization of Christmas. To begin with the Center had designated different decorations for each tree group. Those decorations were meant to depict one particular region of the world. The decorations furnished a vision of a personalized Christmas for five of the seven continents.
One group of trees held the decorations that depicted the Americas. According to the tour guide, this group of trees would alternate the emphasis of the decorations. One year the decorations would focus on Northern America, and on the alternate years the tree decorations would celebrate the history and culture of Latin America. In 2005 the decorations appeared to be mostly red, white and blue, depicting obviously the U.S.A. The guide acknowledged that the flavor of a personalized Christmas came through more strongly when the focus was on Latin America.
A second group of trees held all sorts of decorations that depicted aspects of life on the continent of Africa. On these trees some of the intricacies of African art had become Christmas art. Standing next to these trees was a large wooden giraffe, a gift from a local toy store. Children at the Center loved that giraffe. It helped those children to understand the nature of a personalized Christmas.
A third group of trees had been covered with all sorts of decorations typical of nations on the continent of Asia. The tall center tree held a long, red dragon, one that seemed to circle around the tree. The bright colors on these trees contrasted greatly with the browns and greens on the African trees. The decorations had been selected by Asians in the Church community. Even without inspecting the decorations closely one could still appreciate the Center's desire to create a personalized Christmas.
The fourth and final group of trees had been decorated by the Church members from countries in Europe. Decorations both on and under the tree showed the beauty of the varied European Christmas art. Some of the decorations were nutcrackers. Others were wooden soldiers. In sum the European trees caused one to wonder what took place at the Center during the night.
Perhaps the nutcrackers and the wooden soldiers danced together. Perhaps they were joined by a ballerina or a doll hidden in the tree branches. Perhaps even the decorations had their own personalized Christmas.