Have you got your Christmas tree up yet? Traditionally, we set up a tree on the weekend after Thanksgiving and take it down when we ring in the new year. Decorating a tree is one of my favorite things about the holidays, because every ornament has a story. We have bulbs that belonged to both sets of our parents, clumsily painted ornaments made as gifts from our children during Sunday school days and as home-school projects, and gifts from friends. Our latest additions include a hand-blown glass ornament from Venice (sent by our kids who were stationed in Italy for three years) and two beaded hearts given to us over Thanksgiving by one of our grand daughters. Every Christmas tree tells a story, don’t you think?
I have a sweet friend in my writers’ group who wrote her reflections on Christmas trees, and I liked them so well that I asked permission to share them:
“DISCLAIMER: What follows are my personal preferences. I am not implying that ‘my way’ is right and others’ preferences are wrong. We are each free to make our own choices—hopefully in accordance with the principles of Scripture. Choose Real
“Growing up in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, I was blessed to be surrounded by nature and blessed to have a father who loved both the Creator and His creation. Following in my dad’s footsteps, I grew to love the outdoors as much as he did and spent as much time as possible outside. We didn’t have much money, but we did have five acres of property. Huge white spruce trees grew on our land, along with numerous young trees. Every year, when Christmas drew near, we would walk around and find the best six or seven foot spruce for our Christmas tree. This created my preference for a real tree. My husband shares this preference.
“Choosing real carries over to the rest of my life. I love unpainted wood and things made from nature. I don’t like artificial sweeteners or flavorings, silk flowers, or anything plastic. I choose not to dye my hair or wear makeup, although a friend says that if the barn needs painting, we should paint it. Choose Homemade
“At one of my bridal showers, my best friend gave me six Christmas tree ornaments that she made. They still go on the tree every year. After my husband and I were married, money was tight, so I made a treetop star out of cardboard and tinfoil for our first Christmas together. That, too, still goes on the tree every year. Through the years, we have received more handmade decorations from friends and family. There are beautiful cross stitched ornaments made over thirty years ago. There are ornaments made by my late sister and a friend who now has dementia. There are knitted, crocheted, tatted, and penny rug decorations. The ornaments our son made in elementary school are on the tree, along with the popcorn string our family strung when he was little. We, as a family, also made tree decorations from cinnamon and applesauce and salt dough. When I hang each ornament on the tree, I think about the person who made it. We do concede to store bought lights, though.
“Our preference for handmade shows during the whole year. We decorate with Native American baskets, quilts, and original art. I cook from “scratch,” using organic ingredients as much as possible.
“My husband sometimes describes people as “store bought” or “homemade.” By that, he distinguishes between those who seem to focus on possessions and looking good, and those who care more about being genuine and loving others than their looks.
“There is a handmade magnet on my refrigerator that says, ‘Happiness is homegrown.’ I think true happiness comes from love for God and the people in our lives. One way to show that love is by the work of our hands.”
“I remember the days of old; I meditate on all thy works;
I muse on the work of thy hands” (Psalm 143:5).