The Spindly Tree

Have you ever entered the Christmas season feeling less than happy?  I had a bad attitude last Christmas, but I learned an important lesson from it.

I knew the answer before I asked but I asked my husband anyway.

“What do you think about buying a real tree this year?”

He, once again, pointed out there is only one place for a Christmas tree in our living room.  True, it looks the best right across from the wood burning stove where roaring fires would dry out a live tree by Christmas Day.  Still I liked to dream about a full pine or balsam tree in our home with smells of Christmas everywhere.

We unpacked our five-foot tree and fluffed the branches of the fifteen year old slender pine and placed it on its stand.  We stacked the boxes off to the side until morning when we would play Christmas music and decorate.

Before I fell asleep, I prayed a quick prayer.  I asked God to give me a better attitude.  I didn’t want my spirit to sag because of a dated tree.  I remembered the Scripture in 1 Timothy 6:6:

“True godliness with contentment is itself great wealth.”

Morning arrived and I received an email from my girlfriend in Chicago who wrote about a get-a-way weekend with her husband.  She included photos of the quaint Victorian Inn they visited nestled in the country snow. 

One photo in particular jumped out at me.  It showcased a cozy corner in the reception room of the hotel lobby all decked out for Christmas.  I liked the fireplace opposite a sage love-seat.  They sat on that overstuffed couch and sipped Peppermint Schnapps as they soaked up the ambiance.

Then I noticed the spindly Christmas tree on the side of the fireplace.  The tree, anemic in size, shouted old world country charm with its display of old-fashioned ornaments and garland made of pearls and beads.

I cried out:  “This tree is adorable!  I love it!”

I felt happy looking at that tree and noticed it seemed skimpier than ours.  I enlarged the photo; now I had a plan.  All of a sudden, I liked my old tree again.

I shopped in thrift stores and found stylish pearls and beads to string throughout the tree to create the romantic chic look.   Our transformed tree stood proud with its face lift and beamed a look of elegance in our humble living room.

My excitement for the holidays grew.  I unpacked every box of decorations, cooked meals ahead and baked sugar cookies and biscotti, too.  I hung up every Christmas card in the entry way.

Our family arrived on Christmas Day and I couldn’t wait to show the grandchildren our tree, especially little Amy.   Her nervous mom warned me that she loves beads and pearls but she never touched my tree!

The manger turned out to be another story.  An animal lover, she reached up into my arms to be lifted high to see the manger scene on the top shelf of the bookcase.  I let her pick up the fluffy sheep and hold it in her hands.  I set her on the floor to play with the sheep and grabbed the stable and placed it in front of her with figurines of Joseph, Mary, the baby, the wise men and various animals to complete the scene.  I sat next to her on the rug and shared the story of the baby, Jesus, who came to earth in human form.  Whether she comprehended it or not, she listened and nodded as I explained that God sent His son to the world so we could be saved from sin.  Her eyes grew large when I told her no hotel rooms were left and the baby stayed in a humble stable and slept in a manger of chiseled stone with the smell of animals nearby.  We shivered together as I mentioned how cold the night air felt with winds whipping around the stable.

My little granddaughter may never remember the memory we created re-enacting the Christmas Story that evening in the center of my living room.  Perhaps the experience we shared highlighted a lesson for me alone.  I tapped into the richness of the true meaning of Christmas.  Suddenly, what became relevant could not be contained in the worth of a tree.  I gazed at our spindly tree and no longer wished for a ten-foot spruce.  I rejoiced in my riches as I pondered my cozy home, my loving family and a Savior who gave up a place in Heaven to come down to earth to save my soul. 

My old Christmas tree has become shabby with age.  Some ornaments lack luster and some look threadbare.  But the Christmas Story of redemption when a baby boy, God’s Son, took on human flesh and came to earth to redeem mankind never grows old!  


  1. Amen, Mary! And the tree in your photo is beautiful.

  2. "My old Christmas tree has become shabby with age. Some ornaments lack luster and some look threadbare."

    Kind of like us! Not us as in you and me... haha. Us as in people. Other people!

    "But the Christmas Story of redemption when a baby boy, God’s Son, took on human flesh and came to earth to redeem mankind never grows old!"


    By the way, love the tree!

  3. Amen! So neat the Christmas story of our Savior's birth never gets old being told, even as we and our earthly possessions do.


  4. I love the image of you and Amy, sharing the BEST story ever!
    Come to think of it, I've some grinch issues of my own going on. Are some peppermint schnaps in order, I wonder?

    Thank you for making me smile today!

  5. Mary, we have that exact same tree!!! I love your story--your description put me right there in the room with you and Amy! Thanks so much for sharing.

  6. Your living room looks so warm and cozy and that Christmas tree added life to it in my perspective. You hit the mark! It's not really about the tree/adornments but the true meaning is the remembrance of "Emmanuel"...God with us! How beautiful that you had that moment of imparting that knowledge, the things of God with your grandchild in your home. Indeed, a heart changed by God changes the way we see things. I see your Christmas tree strong to withstand many warm family gatherings, joyful holiday celebrations, good food, not warmed by the fireplace but with love manifested in each of your hearts. Have a blessed Christmas sister Mary and like that tree, may the Lord continue to use you for His glory. Love in Christ.

  7. Hi Mary! I was so inspired by your telling your granddaughter about the Christmas story. It's funny, but sometimes God sends us ways to understand what's important when we can't see it.
    We plugged in our pre-lit tree, only to find multiple places where the lights wouldn't come on. Sigh. You know what? I just turned it a little, and now I can see most all the lights. I'm just to busy to deal with it, and I think God is showing me that I can deal with any problem without stressing. Wonderful!

    May you have a beautiful holiday with your tree, family and love of the Lord,

  8. What a lovely story, dear friend! Oh, I loved reading about this experience you had with little Amy! God bless you this Christmas and make all moments special and meaningful for you and your dear family. Sending you much love and gratitude for the wonderful friend you are to me and to so many others. :)

  9. What a wonderful time you had with Amy and the nativity scene. Those are precious moments indeed. I think your tree is just beautiful! I'm glad you are finding a good attitude this Christmas. I'm working on mine. :)

  10. I loved your story Mary. Your granddaughter may indeed remember you and her on the rug relating the Christmas story. My memories go back to late two years old, and turning three years old. Events will trigger and capture memories. Robert and I pulled the old lights off our tiny plastic tree that sits on our unused pellet stove. Together we decorated with new mini lights and added some garland. We have another small plastic tree in the room where we watch TV. This year, Robert did not have enough energy to put up lights in front. We will enjoy Christmas and remember Jesus as we celebrate.

  11. Thank you for sharing with us here at Tell me a Story and also thank you for visiting my Blog "Joyful Noise" and for your comments you left there.

  12. I love your "Christmas story". I've never have a Christmas tree. But I love to see it on pics.

  13. Thank you! AND it's always wonderful to see how you are being appreciated by many, many blog friends. Bless you...

  14. Such a Christmas-ful memory! Thanks for sharing it!

  15. Last year I bought a fake cheap 20 dollar tree and did exactly the same thing. I was amazed how good one can make a cheap fake tree look when the attitude is right. Creativity kicks in and all sort of ideas start flowing. Hard to give us some traditions, especially the ones that make our hearts glad and comfortable. I think I will write about our first Christmas living in Bolivia, 130 miles from the closest city. Thanks for the idea Mary and Merry Christmas to you.

  16. Dear sweet Mary, I love this story! It has truly melted my heart! If we would truly grasp what it important and leave the rest behind! Hugs and blessings, Cindy

  17. What a wonderful Christmas story… I appreciate the reminder of one of the other gifts, not as miraculous, but powerful just the same, of our free will and how we can use it to not only Believe, but to choose our perspective in life.

    Such a powerful reminder, sister.

    I think your granddaughter has the foundation of Him provided by you and all of yours. The best gift anyone could ever give.

    p.s. I love your biscotti!!!

  18. A very meaningful Christmas story. A timely reminder to us all. Have a beautiful day!

  19. What a beautiful Christmas thought provoking.

    Have a Merry Christmas :)


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