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!