‘Tis the season to be jolly but I have to confess, I was feeling slightly bah, humbug-ish yesterday. It was time to put up the Christmas tree. Past time, actually. I’d already put it off a couple weeks. If it was going up at all, it had to be this weekend.
Don’t get me wrong. I love our Christmas tree—once it’s up. It’s not huge, but it has over a thousand colored lights on it, and well over 300 ornaments. Most of those ornaments are special for one reason or another. For the last forty years we have traditionally given each member of the family an ornament that represents who they are, or is significant for some event that happened in their life that year. Friends give us other ornaments, and although I tell myself I cannot buy any more ornaments for myself, every year I succumb to temptation and buy at least one or two more that I find especially beautiful or meaningful. Of course the girls and their families have taken their ornaments for their own trees, but I now have a tote that is nearly full of old, less “special” ornaments that I cannot fit on the tree.
As much as I love our Christmas tree, every year I go through the same inner battle with myself—should I set up the tree or not? It seems the older I get, the lazier I get. It just sounds like so much work, as I contemplate it. Bob brings up all the totes and sets up the tree, but then I am the one who puts on the lights and decorates by myself. If I wasn’t so fussy he would probably help, but it is better that he just lets me do it myself even if it does take ten or twelve hours to do it! No wonder it takes so long—every one of those ornaments is carefully and precisely hung in just the right spot.
There is one reason I cannot allow myself to wimp out and not put up the tree—Robbie. His world is pretty much confined to two or three rooms in our house. He loves the Christmas tree, and if for a few weeks each year I can brighten his little world, then that is what I need to do.
This year I have six more reasons to put up the Christmas tree as well—my six Naranjo grandchildren who are living with us for a few months. Matthew and Mandy, of course, don’t remember Grandma’s tree at all since they have been in Ecuador the last three years. The other four remember different ornaments with oohs and ahs, and study the old photo ornaments to see if they can figure out which baby picture is which.
On the other hand, those other six “reasons” are also why I struggled with, and delayed in, putting up the tree this year. We are so crowded in this house that bringing in one more thing—one more big thing—to take up floor space in our already over-flowing living room seemed crazy. I just couldn’t disappoint Robbie and the kids, though, so the Grinch in me was out-voted, and the tree went up yesterday.
Well, it is partially up. The one thousand lights are lit and four hundred of them are twinkling prettily—finally—but the ornaments are still sitting in piles waiting to be put on by the kids this afternoon. I struggled with the lights yesterday. I bought a pre-lit tree a couple years ago so I wouldn’t have to mess with tangled balls of unpredictable strings of lights, but at the time, one section of the lights on the tree was not working and I had to add a string of lights anyway to fill in. Then the 350 lights on the tree just weren’t enough for me, so I added four more strings—another seven hundred lights to be exact. Two of the strings are twinkling lights. Yesterday, after testing everything before I put them on the tree, one of the twinkling strings just suddenly quit and only half the tree was twinkling. Frustration until we finally figured out the fuses had gone out on that string and we changed the fuses.
I guess if I didn’t want to feel so Grinch-ish each year I could forget the strings of lights and just settle for the pre-lit tree. I could choose one hundred of my favorite ornaments instead of three hundred and not be so fussy about how they are hung. I must say, though, in the end, when I see the happiness on Robbie’s face when he see the tree go up; when I see the baby’s eyes glowing and Matthew and Katie barely able to contain their excitement as they pick up and examine the ornaments waiting to go on the tree, my heart grows a couple of sizes bigger and I get over the humbugs—until next year.
I know there are some Christians who will not have a tree in their homes because they say the tradition of the Christmas tree stems back to paganism. I do not know about that. My beautifully lit Christmas tree reminds me of another tree upon which the Light of the world hung. Some of our ornaments depict the birth of the Baby Jesus, faith, hope, and love; many of the others represent each of the individual lives in our family—all gifts of God. The gifts at the foot of our tree are symbolic of His greatest gift of all—salvation through His only begotten Son. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Romans 6:23 adds, “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
It is a chore to set up the Christmas tree. I don’t always enjoy it. But in the end, I rejoice in its beauty and all that it means to me of family, love and the true meaning of Christmas—a baby who grew up to hang on a tree for me. This life can be drudgery at times. It is hard, but in the end, how we will rejoice at the Gift freely given for us on that tree! The Light of the world has come! The love Gift of God is ours for the taking! Rejoice!