This year our Christmas tree almost wasn’t a Christmas tree. The last on the lot, we got it for a steal. Free, that is. Good things come to those who wait (or procrastinate as the case may be.) I think the message from the generous folks at Boy Scouts of America went something like this: “It’s 12 feet tall and six feet wide. If they can haul it off, they can have it.” We hauled it off within the hour.
Remember how Charlie Brown rescued the overlooked tree that was too small and flimsy? Well, we rescued the equivalent of its arboreal doppelganger. Too tall and too wide, it was destined to be bonfire fuel before ever being adorned with lights and tinsel. But with some serious pruning with loppers and chainsaw, we managed to get it inside where the carols were playing and the wassail was brewing. Thanks Nolin (son) and Eric (son-in-law) and Chad (good friend) for adding muscle to our Christmas spirit so that this tree could find our home.
Destined for destruction, redeemed, pruned, adorned, and given the purpose of shining brightly through the season of long, dark nights—there’s a lesson in that. Like our spruce, we long to be brought in from the cold and given a home. I like analogies.
Speaking of which, John was sitting and looking at our big tree (which literally fills up a good portion of the room) and he mused, “Our year has been a lot like that tree. We too have had gifts piled up around us. We too have had the opportunity to shine light in places we’ve never visited. We could have felt cold and rejected, but instead we are surrounded with love and good friends and precious family.” Good thoughts on paper; helpful thoughts to read and ponder. But if you could have heard him say it, you may have noted the stark contrast between his message and his experience. Speaking becomes more and more difficult with each passing week. Forming the words and making himself understood takes a lot of effort (and patience) on his part. Likewise, listening carefully and decoding takes a lot of effort (and patience) on our part. But when we get past the confusion, we find treasures like the one about the tree. His perspective is one of blessing, not loss, and it’s worth the effort it takes to share it with others.
When I think about it, John himself is a lot like our Christmas tree (although he is beginning to look a little more like Charlie Brown’s.) So before we all begin dismantling the evergreens that grace our living rooms, I’d like to conclude with the old German ode to the Christmas tree as my way of saying thanks, John, for being steadfast in every season.
O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree,
Thy leaves are so unchanging;
Not only green when summer’s here,
But also when it’s cold and drear.
O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree
Thy leaves are so unchanging.