I bent the spindly tree branch for the billionth time. There was just no way I could fill the gaping hole in the Charlie Brown Christmas tree. A twelve dollar, six foot tree left a lot to be desired in lushness and extravagance. But at six months pregnant and walking to college through the snow, I rejoiced in the wonder of our first Christmas tree.
Finish college first. Don’t get married. You’re too young. Yes, I suppose, in retrospect the naysayers were right about that. We were but babes. At twenty and twenty-one, both me and my husband, still college students, could have probably planned it better.
It will never last. You’ll be divorced in a few years. I laugh in joy as I type this. Now, thirty plus years later, two children, two in-law children, and two grands, my husband and I still revel in each other’s company, anxiously await our Friday night dates. Our children grown with families of their own.
But that day I lamented over ornaments. We’d spent all our budgeted money on the tree. That meant no money left over for ornaments. For surely, our faces graced the billboard’s example of “starving college students.” It saddened me to think we would weather our first holiday season celebrating the birth of our Savior with a barren tree.
So I continued to wash clothes in my “new” fifty dollar washing machine and hung the clean clothes on strings strung in the bathroom. I tidied the apartment with its hand-me-down furniture like our three-legged couch, stuffing tumbling out the left cushion. Thank the Lord for the perfect measurements of the brick under the left front leg.
But somehow, by the Lord’s sweet providence, we found ourselves with a crisp five dollar bill, standing In a local department store. My brilliant husband came up with the perfect plan. Why buy ornaments when you can make them much cheaper? This appealed to my creative nature, and he and I hurried home with a kit to make “stain glass ornaments” in the oven.
What a jolly and jubilant night he and I spent that evening, poring over each creation, dropping the tiny colored beads into each space. I could hardly wait until they popped out of the oven. And then, they were finished. No less a work of inspiring art than the Sistine chapel. At least, for us.
Those ornaments, coupled with the nostalgic silver strands of icicles, took our tree from drab and sad to yuletide wonder. And with a little yellow felt I had amongst my fabric and a tiny bit of glitter, I stuffed a star for the top.
Now my husband and I are in our fifties. And every year I take those little ornaments in my hand and lean over to my grandchildren to whisper the story of my first Christmas with their grandpa. Their eyes light up while a tear comes to mine.
For you see, God taught my husband and I a valuable lesson that year. The meaning of life is not about possessions. It’s not about a ginormous tree blanketed with a plethora of extravagant decorations footed with the grandest of gifts.
It’s about love. It’s about sharing yourself. Giving of your time. Being faithful. Daring to be dedicated. Committing to being there. Sacrificing your wants for others’ needs. Making the impossible work. Even when it’s hard. So very, very hard.
But most of all, it’s about the Lord Jesus, Savior of the world. The author of all of these things. Merry Christmas.
Read my interview with Peggy Trotter
Year of Jubilee Book Review
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