Yesterday I got out of bed and went to my Christmas Tree. I keep my Christmas Tree up all year-long, and I decorate it twice a year. Once for Christmas and once for Valentine’s Day. On Valentine’s Day I take down my Christmas ornaments and make my husband a Valentine’s tree. I write all the ways in which I love him on little notes and tie them to the tree with red ribbons. When he arrives home from work on Valentine’s Day he then reads the notes, and for the following 10 months if he ever wondered why I loved him all he had to do was read the notes on the tree.
Yesterday I cut off the notes and then replaced them with decorations that reminded me of Christmas pasts and those I love. I smiled when I found each of my kids first Christmas ornaments, and than ornaments that reminded me of what they enjoyed doing when they were children. I smiled as I pulled each hand-made ornament out of the box, and I can still see their smiling faces at Christmas when they gave me the ornaments has a gift.
Since I leave my tree up all year I’ve also used it has a place for my granddaughter to find a special gift when she comes to visit. I love when she comes into my home and goes directly to the tree. She knows that there is always something special there for her to find. When I first gave my granddaughter a gift from under the tree it was June and my son said, “Mom, you’re going to screw up her head giving her a gift under a Christmas Tree or a Valentine’s Day Tree!” Now, he just tells her to go look. It’s amazing how quickly he forgave me for screwing up his daughter’s head!
When my children were young Santa had an Elf who would leave them a present a day beginning on December 1st and ending December 24th. Each day in December my kids would wake up and there would be something special for each of them. They loved going to school sharing that an Elf had left them a gift, and if the Elf got busy and forgot to put the gift under the tree they would come running to find me letting me know that whichever Elf forgot to leave the gift should be fired. Immediately I would send them to do a quick morning chore and when they returned… their gift had arrived.
This morning when I woke up I walked into my tiny family room and there was my tree with all its memories, and I smiled. When my children were young I used to read them the story of The Fir Tree written by: Hans Christian Andersen. The story is about a Fir Tree that lived in the forest, and was surrounded by the beauty that God had created, yet he wasn’t happy. Each Christmas season the tree would watch as the loggers came into the forest and cut down the trees. The small tree always wondered where the larger trees were going. One day a bird came and told the tree that the trees were brought into town and decorated in splendor. As the tiny tree grew he aspired to be cut down and brought into town.
One Christmas he got his wish.
He was cut and brought into town and purchased. He was taken into a home and decorated with ornaments and candles and when family and friends gathered around him he watched and listened as they shared stories, sang Christmas songs, and opened presents. It was the tree’s most memorable evening.
The next morning the tree was taken down and placed in the attic where it was dark and lonely. With time the tree became friends with some mice and shared the stories of his special night, and each night he would repeat the stories until finally the mice were tired of hearing the same, old stories and left him waiting in the dark alone.
When spring arrived the tree was taken out of the attic, placed in a wood pile and burned.
The Fir Tree happens to be my favorite Christmas story of all time, and each time I would read it to my children I would cry. My children would always asked me why I would read them such a sad story each year, and my message to them was… It’s such a reminder to me about the reason for the season. All the Fir Tree wanted was to go beyond the forest and see the beauty of the world, but what the Fir Tree found was the people only needed the tree’s beauty for one special night, and after they were through with the tree they discarded him. I always told my children the message was to always remember that while we are celebrating the birth of Christ, the death of Christ also arrived when a tree was discarded.
It’s amazing the lessons one can learn from the simplicity of a Fir Tree.
When thou shalt besiege a city a long time, in making war against it to take it, thou shalt not destroy the trees thereof by forcing an axe against them: for thou mayest eat of them, and thou shalt not cut them down (for the tree of the field is man’s life) to employ them in the siege: Deuteronomy 20: 19
ONWARD TO CHRISTMAS!