There are few things in life that set my heart a flutter more than decorating the Christmas tree. I love looking at each ornament and remembering the moment it was received, the person who gave it to us, and the story behind its selection. I love turning the lights on for the first time and seeing their brilliant sparkle. I love placing the angel atop the tree’s 10 feet of gorgeousness. I love the warm, joyous, festive feeling I get every time I walk into the room and it is illuminated in front of me. I love it all…even though some of our craziest moments as a couple have occurred in the process of procuring our beloved Christmas tree.
There was the Christmas my dear newlywed husband lost his hearing due to our first “real” Christmas tree. We were spending our first Christmas in Washington state, where my husband was called to his first pastorate. Being in awe of the evergreens that completely covered the landscape, I was determined that we would have a “real” tree in our first home. In late November, Craig went deer hunting with one of our parishioners. While hunting, he saw the most ideal of trees. He did not have an ax on his person, so he did the next best thing. He put 12 shots in it, and took it down. However, he did not wear earplugs and the multitude of gunshots caused him to lose hearing for 5 days. He returned home, so proud to present the tree to me, yet he was unable to hear my excited thank yous. Craig never got a deer that season, so we added a hook to his tag and have hung it on our tree ever since. A memento from our first “live” tree, and a reminder of his desire to surprise me with my dream tree, even though it required sacrifice.
Then, there was the Christmas about 5 years later, where my husband coined the much quoted phrase, “trees always look smaller in the woods”. On our traditional Saturday after Thanksgiving hike for the Christmas tree, Craig spotted a beauty. We discussed the size, but decided it would fit in our house, that was chalet style and had an 18 foot ceiling. With the help of another parishioner, Craig cut the tree and they managed to tie it to the roof of our little Toyota Tercel. The top nearly touched the ground in front of the car and the trunk barely scraped the ground in the back. We must have looked ridiculous driving the massive tree to its destination. We arrived home, to realize that the only help available to get this tree in the front door was…little old me. Craig in his “can do” attitude had a plan. He untied the tree. He stood at the front, and instructed me to stand at the back. He explained that when he counted to 3, we would roll the tree onto our shoulders, and then walk into the front door. We counted to 3…we rolled the tree…but Craig was confused as to why I was not walking. He yelled for me to walk. The problem was, that I was flat on the ground with the tree on top of me. I could not even get up under the weight. All I could do was laugh. After a bit of searching, a neighbor was found, and the tree was brought into our house. It was a mere 28 feet tall. A bit of altering and trimming was required, before it could be placed in the stand, and ultimately decorated. Every Holiday season, we remember the time I was stuck under the Christmas tree, and recall the fact that “trees always look smaller in the woods”.
I believe that the wonderful thing about Christmas trees is that they tell a story. Each of our trees has a tale of how it came to arrive in our living room. Every ornament reminds us of a special person in our lives, or a special place we have visited. The lights point us to Jesus, the Light of the World, born at Christmas to save the world from it’s sin. The beauty of the Christmas tree is that it encompasses the very best things about Christmas: Jesus, family, and memories. Tied together perfectly…like a gorgeous present!