Monday, November 26, 2012

Merry Start to your Christmas!

Friday, as I mentioned before, I had the privilege of putting up and trimming our living room Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving.  That was a first for my own house.   I must say, it was beyond lovely!

Since I was a little girl I've enjoyed helping do this for others.  Mostly Nanny's and Mother's, but I've also enjoyed very much helping Eric's parents with their tree, too.  While I do not enjoy so much the testing of the lights, digging out the tree, the boxes, and dealing with the chaos that is boxes all over the living room, I do love the finished product.  This year, it's exceptionally beautiful.

Before I continue, I must clarify that our living room tree... the big tree, as we call it, since we like to have a small tree in as many rooms as possible... is not a decorator's dream.  It is not expertly color-coordinated, and there is no danger of anyone wanting my help to make their tree look socially acceptable.

So what makes it so beautiful?  There are no designer ornaments, no expensive bows, and there's no tinsel.  Actually, the tree itself came from our local corporate conglomerate warehouse type store.  It's colorful, yes.  The star is a wee bit crooked, but its color and lights make up for that somewhat.  There's actually one tiny branch at the top that won't stay tamed, making the tree look as if it's waving.

This year, the thing that grabs my heart is the different aspects that make up our tree.  Each part of our tree, quite unintentionally, reminds us gently of the yarn with which our family is being knit.

The tree itself has colored lights, which are Eric's favorite.  Well, in the beginning that was the reason.  Now they're mine too.

The tree is plain, dark green, and she's just the right size... not too fat, not too skinny.  Too fat would take too much room, too skinny wouldn't be right either.

There are no tinsel icicles.  I abhor cleaning those little silver strings from the carpet and the tree itself, and it's not that I dislike tinsel garland in particular, but Eric's Mom has these pretty strings of beads that she drapes carefully between the branches.  I've come to appreciate that, and this year we have silver ones.

The star is there in part to remind us of the North Star, but also because I can't bear the thought of any angel on my tree that wasn't the ancient angel that Nanny had.  The poor thing was plastic and had a black mark on her chubby face, and she'd been around as long as I can remember.  And you know what?  My mom had a star on the tree for as long as I can remember.  Actually, she had a really cool one that was gold, and as the light inside warmed, it caused this spikey, clear, gold plastic part to spin and throw light all over the ceiling.  I loved watching that warm glow until I fell asleep to the sound of the TV and Mother wrapping and making gifts on the floor beside me.

Then there are the ornaments.  Ah, the ornaments.  The only thing I really collect, other than dust, is Hallmark ornaments.  There is the little mouse crawling on a baritone, the tiny black music stand, our first Christmas together ornaments, our parents-to-be ornament, the kid's baby's first Christmas ornaments, the ones in the series that went up to five years old for the boys, the Thomas and Cars ornaments, the Snoopy and Bugs Bunny, the 1950's Barbie, the snowglobe, and my favorite... a candy church.

Then there are the ornaments that we've picked up on vacation since we've been married.  A brass ferris wheel from Navy Pier in Chicago, a dolphin from Galveston, a clear bell with Cinderella's castle atop and a Tinkerbell clapper from Disney, a brass ornament from the Oklahoma City Zoo, among others.  And there are ornaments that came from our trees growing up, like the brass angel and deer that have our names engraved on them, the little mouse in a stocking that Eric made as a child, the clear acrylic (I assume) one that was from a fundraiser when I was in kindergarten.

There are ornaments from our childhood, our honeymoon, our kids' births, our vacations, and even one from Eric's Dad's tree as a boy.  There are ornaments representing things we love, places we've been, and times we don't want to forget.

As we pulled these things out to assemble what I think is the best tree we've had since we've been married, the kids buzzed around wanting to see what was next, trying to put all the ornaments on one branch and dancing around in Santa hats.  Eric fought the tree's lights and won, finding a safe way to have everything lit.  We talked about the ornaments, who gave what and when, where we bought each one, who might have given us each one.  Mom is the best at spacing them correctly, although we both agree that part is just no fun.

Once we sat with our last cup of egg nog to rest, we talked more about how Granny had these bubble lights that Mom remembers from when she was little, and I talked about Nanny and Grandad's lights that had this little clear plastic star around them, and how I wished they still made them.  We talked about pulling the outside lights out of the attic and how quickly we decided not to use them after they kinda exploded when we plugged them in.

Then it hit me.  I love this tree and this time because of its Ebenezer stone quality.  Such a beautiful tapestry woven of our experiences, both intended and unintended.  I thought of how important it is to us, the tradition of a Christmas tree, and how we cherish the lately rare opportunity to participate in it together.  As I sat down to bible study today, I was quickly reminded of the main tradition we are to share.

Just as the Israelites were commanded to hand down the story verbally, so must we.  It is not enough to have a bible in our home, hand it to our children on Easter, or even send them to church.  We must take the time to tell them of the parts and facets of God's love for us, remembering out loud with our voices and lives the ways we have been rescued from ourselves.  We must live it out in the way we do everything we do, from the rising to the setting of the sun and beyond.

May I take as more time with sharing the true meaning and source of joy with my children than I do the traditions as we walk through the holidays, for the joy that the gospel's light brings is the only gift that keeps on giving!

Merry beginning of the Christmas season!

Thanks be to God!

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