Does your tree look lonely now that all the presents have been gifted? Ours does. In fact, this year our tree spent most of its existence in a state of loneliness. It went up right after Thanksgiving, as is our tradition and then just sat there looking like a pretty-girl with her hair and makeup all done up but with no skirt on. That’s because we were so busy (and by we I mean other people) trying to squeeze a bathroom remodel in that things like shopping for and wrapping up presents just did not happen until a few days before the ultimate deadline.
So, the tree looked naked and lonely. And sort of sad, even though it had happy lights and ornaments. Oh yea, we went all out this year and put big, gumdrop-looking lights on over the pre-lit ones that came on the tree. And we didn’t just stop at the ornaments that we had collected (one bell for each year we’ve been married, one special ornament per child per year plus a few other special ones). No, no– we put on the glass candy canes, we put on the dollar store poinsettias. Now before I go further let me say that my husband loves a simple, sparsely decorated tree. So, after about 5 strategically placed ornaments and lights of either the colored or white variety, but not both, he declares the tree to be done and retires to the kitchen for hot chocolate and dancing to Christmas music. (Actually, I have no idea what he’s doing because the kids and I are you know, DECORATING the tree).
Now that I think of it, my husband is a lot like Charlie Brown in the Christmas special. He doesn’t mind a tree that looks sad. Maybe, like Charlie, he wants a tree that needs him. I don’t know. But what I do know is that that tree was in serious need of some presents under it, especially because it is an artificial specimen of a tree that probably exists nowhere in nature. It is tall and slender and like a can-can girl has a vast quantity of space between the floor and where the pretty starts. So, you know, that’s a lot of pressure to put some big-ole presents there to take up the space and beckon the children to come closer and rattle, inspect and smell the gifts in the hopes of getting a clue as to what fun awaits them. In the case of Helen, you can add tasting to that list, because her technique seems to have been to gnaw on one corner of a box until she got caught and pulled away from the sparkly tree.
Basically, our tree spent a short brilliant span of time in all its glory before it returned to its lonely state. And when I think of it, isn’t that a little like the time of Christ’s birth? I mean, just think of the shepherds out in the field, going about business as usual when the angels appeared and the whole sky was lit with the glory of God. But before that, Mary and Joseph were alone, waiting for their gift. And after the shepherds went back to their work, life was quiet again in the stall. But meanwhile, the eternal One had entered our space and time to live a life and accomplish work that really was lonely. He is the only one who could do it, and he did it for us.