Jack Johnson's Reclaimed Christmas

See how the Hawaiin folk rocker and his family transform debris from the ocean into a heartfelt Christmas display; then enjoy an exclusive holiday playlist from Jack and his Brushfire Records labelmates.

Jack Johnson Christmas Tree
Photo: Photo: Linny Morris

Singer/songwriter/surfer dude Jack Johnson's Christmas tree is a little like the roll-with-it guy himself: It spent time in the ocean waves near his Pacific-facing Oahu home before it wound up as a work of art. "Growing up in Hawaii, all the Christmas trees were shipped in from Oregon, and it seemed odd to me even as a kid to ship a tree here that'd been chopped down from somewhere else," says Johnson.

That fact still bugged him as he was standing in a Christmas tree lot with his wife, Kim, and their young children several years back. "I said to the kids, 'C'mon, we can do better than this.' " So Johnson took his clan down to the beach, where a storm had washed ashore some wood and debris. "I think it was pieces of somebody's turquoise plywood deck that had been all beaten up and washed around, so it looked really neat—it was all weather worn, and it was Kim's favorite color, so I turned it into a tree."

Johnson, who has sold more than 19 million albums, seems to just as effortlessly craft his feel-good music—his ultra-mellow sixth album, From Here to You to Now, came out this fall, every tour date selling out well in advance (Listen to our exclusive holiday playlist from Johnson and his labelmates, below!). But he's looking forward to being in Hawaii for the holidays, when his transformed tannenbaum (which he and the kids assembled with screws and a skill saw) is unpacked and adorned with ornaments, many of which the family has made themselves.

"When you're picking stuff up off the beach, you can't just leave the little bits of plastic that wash up on shore. So we started collecting it, and gluing pieces together," says Johnson. "It's so colorful, you might as well use it." A decoration near the top of their tree is one such recycled treasure—four cigarette lighters in different colors, radiating out like a star.

Christmas Day this year will find the family gathered with Johnson's mother and his brothers' families, who live close by. It's the one day when the musician's famous surfing-every-morning habit can wait. "I'll skip Christmas morning; it makes it more fun to be here together." He pauses. "But if the waves are really good, then at some point I'm going to slide out there. I'll be patient about it, go in the afternoon. I'm more addicted to being a Dad than to surfing."

Enjoy this holiday playlist from Jack and his friends at Brushfire Records!

 

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