Bear with me if you will, for one more Christmas post that has nothing to do with Christmas but is something that hits me each year when we take down our tree.
We get the best trees each year from our local firehouse. It started because we wanted to support our wonderful volunteer firemen in their annual fundraiser. The fact that the trees are always so healthy and full is an added bonus. This year’s tree was gorgeous. It had to be over six feet as it brushed against the ceiling. It dropped surprisingly few needles and sucked up tons of water. We loved it – the way it looked, the way it smelled, the whole Christmas-y thing!
But, inevitably, you hit that day when you are tired of walking around it, vacuuming around it and sneezing around it and you know that you and the tree are ready to part ways. Very carefully, you remove each ornament. They must be rewrapped and repacked back into their boxes. Fragile glass ones that were gifts, sweet ones that your children made for you, the “baby’s first Christmas” and “our first Christmas together” Hallmark ones that bring back so many memories. Then the final last step – the indignity of hauling that bad boy out to the roadside for mulch pick up. My hubby and son dragged it out to the edge of our property and we stepped back to have a last look. That once regal tree now looked so impossibly small and sad.
It got so small for two reasons.:
- It’s been stripped of all it’s finery. No decorations or twinkling lights are left to adorn it’s branches. It looks sort of like the way I do in the morning before any makeup has been applied.
- It’s in the wrong place and in the wrong position. A Christmas tree is supposed to have a place of honor in your home, in front of the living room window or in a corner where everyone can see it. We struggle to make sure that tree is standing straight and tall. We will even trim it’s trunk and top to ensure a perfect fit.
Here’s the thing about Christmas trees. They give the whole family an excuse to come together over hot chocolate and Christmas carols and that is good. They hold our memories from past years and hopes for future ones amidst their branches in the form of cheesy and beautiful ornaments and that is good. They represent the best of a holiday season when everyone takes a moment, just a stolen moment here and there, to stop and reflect and that is great. But it’s just one season in the lifespan of the tree.
Looking at that sad, little tree out by the curb, I realize that it has only shared a small portion of it’s life with us. I wish I could have seen it growing in the fields of it’s youth. Even now, though it has been cut down in it’s prime, it still has important purpose. After the family celebrations are over, it will return as mulch for spring gardens. It’s not done yet and neither am I. Even though I have gained a few pounds over the season and had to drag myself back to work, I am still standing tall with a twinkle in my tired eyes. Why? Because I remember that the outside is only and always a temporary season.
Charm is deceptive and beauty if fleeting, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.
While I can have fun choosing just the right sweater to go with those jeans and carefully apply that mascara and eyeliner, I remember the tree and how majestic he looks even in his humble, unadorned state.
That tree is was and still is beautiful. So are you. Christmas is done for another year but you are not.
Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.
2 Samuel 16:7