Christmas Memories - My Tree
It is 4:32 am here, on a wet and cold morning. I am determined to get my seasonal cookie baking done today, so I am in that baking mode that only I can work myself up to. When it comes to making a lot of cookies, I like to mix all the cookie doughs at one time and then bake throughout the day. I have to do it that way because my kitchen is so small and there just isn't the room to take up all that space. I plan on making a LOT of cookies today. But that isn't what this post is about. I want to talk about Christmas trees.
We have had some great trees in our lifetime. Most of them were live, almost all of them we hunted for ourselves. We didn't have an artificial tree until we moved from the Rockies to Ontario.
I love Christmas trees. I would have one in every room and in every nook and cranny if I could. Until recently, we had a tree in the living room and one in the kitchen. A lot of the ornaments on those trees were homemade by the kids and myself. We had the best tree every year.
One year we were blessed to live in a house that was very rustic and had the highest ceilings, so our tree was enormous. My Man and the kids had gone out to hunt this one down. When we wrestled it through the front door and got it into the spot we wanted it, it required some trunk trimming and in came the chain saw. (Yes, we are rednecks) What a mess! What a noise!! But we managed to get it set up and tied it to the wall to keep it upright. It was a most beautiful tree. My Man had to bring in the step ladder so we could decorate it. He had to use a pool cue to get the angel on the top branch! That tree took many, many strands of lights and hundreds of ornaments to decorate. Thank goodness I used to make tree ornaments by the dozens! We went to a lot of garage sales and found some beautifully unique decorations as well.
There was the year when My Man decided that we would just buy a freshly cut tree. We only had a small car at the time and he and I went to town, which was about 45 miles away. That doesn't seem like a long distance now, but when you factor in mountain passes, and snow, it seems longer. While I did a quick grocery shop in the supermarket, he passed the time chatting with the young men and their Scout leaders from our church who were selling Christmas trees for a fund raiser in the parking lot. He had picked out what looked like a decent one. Of course, it was all wrapped up in netting and so we couldn't really tell what it looked like. It took two of the Scouts to carry it to the car. To make a long story short, the tree wouldn't co-operate and stay on the roof of our small car, so, My Man solved the problem by opening both windows in the back car doors and he shoved the tree through the open windows. Thank goodness for back country roads!! It was a nightmare to get out of town. Guess who was driving? Not My Man!! Anyways, we got it home and into the house and My Man and a couple of our boys got it set up in it's stand and then came the cutting of the netting. This tree was HUGE!!! Six of us could stand around it with our arms outstretched touching fingertip to fingertip! It was one of the most beautiful trees we have ever had.
That same year, My Man must have felt guilty about making me drive home with that tree sticking out both sides of the car, so he tried to make it up to me, by taking me up the logging road to find a tree for my kitchen. Just the two of us, in his friend's little truck he had borrowed just for the occasion. He took along his favorite axe and off we went, bundled up against the cold. Did we do this first thing in the morning when there was lots of daylight ahead of us? Of course not!
It was a spur of the moment thing, which is what leads me to believe the guilt theory. We went as far up the logging road as we could get. We got out and he studied the trees until he found just the one he wanted, and then he set off to chop it down. Do you know how much snow can fall in the Rockies? That's right- tons! It was already heading into the late afternoon and the sun was beginning to go down, and it was getting colder as well. My Man managed to walk across the frozen snow pack as I stood by the truck watching. All of a sudden, he completely disappeared! I couldn't see him and I couldn't hear him. At first, I thought that he was teasing me, but as the seconds passed, I realized that we were in deep trouble here. I was going to have to go for help and I couldn't take the truck, because it was the only thing that I thought of to leave to mark the spot in a completely white area. Everything looked the same. As I was trying to get my mind around who was the nearest person to get to, I was calling out to My Man. It took what seemed like hours for him to haul himself out of the snow covered abyss that he had stepped into. He assured me that he was okay, and he proceeded to cut down the tree he had found. By the time he had drug the tree back to the road, he was in a full blown asthma attack, and, of course, didn't have his puffer with him. (My Man has cold and exercise induced asthma and he has never let it stop him from getting out and enjoying the cold and exercise.) I ended up driving back down the winding and snow covered road while he tried to get his breathing under control. I will never forget that tree, nor the experience of going out and bringing it home.
I was reading through my journal yesterday and came across something that I wrote a couple of years ago. I am going to share it here:
"As I was sitting here, after reading my Scriptures this morning, I was studying our Christmas tree, and I suddenly realized why the tree is my favorite Christmas tradition.
The branches have been fluffed out to make it fuller and to bring forth it's full potential, making the size and shape just right. The base of the tree is held firm in it's stand, and, if needed, anchored to the wall for safety.
The lights are wrapped around and along and wound through the many branches and the more lights there are, the better! The decorations are carefully placed where each looks it's best, and it is wrapped in ribbons or garlands. There is a star on our treetop this year instead of our usual angel.
Then, as I was studying the tree at 5:30am, I likened these things to our lives.
We are the tree. Our "branches" need to be fluffed and twisted and straightened to bring out our full potential and to get the size and shape just right.
The decorations, so carefully placed (some are cherished, well-loved, and maybe others are new additions) - these are our talents, our gifts from Heavenly Father- some lovingly nutured and others newly discovered. Some are in the front of the tree and some are tucked away in the branches or towards the back.
As we finish decorating the tree (a labour of love), we step back and admire it. We enjoy it's beauty.
Right now, my tree sits in darkness, the lights turned off. The decorations are still the same, but they look different,. The ones tucked in the branches are barely noticeable - the ones at the back not at all.
The tree is the same as it was when I decorated it last night. But right now it is dull and it irritates me. It has faded into the background and it is just there- and for some reason that annoys me.
Then I turn on the lights and what a difference! The tree sparkles and shimmers, giving off a glow and a warmth that makes it stand out, draws the eye to it.
The decorations on the front of the tree have come to life, the ones tucked in branches and hanging on the back add dimension and complete the whole look of the once dull tree.
It is the same with us. The light of the Gosepel of Jesus Christ illuminates us with the same startling effect. It highlights our talents and those tucked away inside and off to the back, giving us dimension, and so it is that we mustn't hide our light under a bushel, but to let it shine forth that we may be a beacon to others who are searching for truth and light in their lives."
May your Christmas be glorious and bright!