I am sitting here snuggled up with our dog Sparrow, looking at our 28th Christmas tree.
Although we have been married thirty years this year, we got married five days after
Christmas, so that first year we didn't have a tree together. The year Marie was born,
four days before Christmas, we didn't have a tree, either. So this year makes our 28th
Our tree is very similar to most, I suppose. It has its share of Santas and holly wreaths
and candy canes. But our tree is not just a Christmas tree, it is a Life tree. Let me explain
what I mean by that.
When I was eighteen, I went to visit Savannah, Georgia right after Christmas. While I
was there I attended several Open Houses -- where people open up their homes for
celebrations. At one of these festive occasions I saw the most unusual Christmas tree I
had ever seen. It was covered with movie tickets, theater tickets, trinkets and
memorabilia of all types. The lady who lived in the house was in her eighties and as
lively and full of spirit as anyone I had ever met and I asked her about her unusual tree.
"It is a celebration of my life", she answered. She went on to tell me that at all
occasions in her life she would take some sort of memento to place on her tree, some
token of remembrance. Then each year when she would decorate her tree, "I re-live
those special times in my life that would have otherwise slipped away."
Needless to say the lady and her tree made a great impression upon a young
impressionable teenager. I determined that whenever I had a tree of my own, I wanted
it to be something special, too. When Glen and I were engaged, I shared with him the
story of the Savannah woman and the story seemed to touch a chord with him as well.
So that first year we celebrated Christmas together, in that tiny, cold apartment, we
determined that the ornaments on our tree would be ones that we had specifically
picked out for our tree, not just to fill the branches, but because of their beauty or
meaning or special significance to us. Or they would be ornaments we had made, or
someone else had given us, or like the lady in Savannah, they would be mementos of
the events of our lives. We wouldn't even have actually had a tree that year if my sister
hadn't brought us one -- we thought our apartment was just too small for a tree.
It was and it wasn't. Our first Christmas tree only had nine ornaments on it (some of
which we still have today). They were given to us by my mother and her friend.
Our tree today has hundreds and hundreds of ornaments. I started to catalog and count
them one day and stopped somewhere after 600. Along with the snowflakes (some of
which belonged to my mother) and the balls (most of which I put on my trees growing
up as a girl), there are "Savannah" ornaments: the doves and butterflies off our
wedding cake; the golden bells off my parent's 50th anniversary cake; concert tickets;
Metro tickets from Washington, DC; a baby's pacifier; my girls' little black patent
leather baby shoes; a hickory nut I picked up at my brother's house one day when we
spent the day with his family; candles from a 40th birthday cake; and from a 50th
birthday cake; HighSchool Band Security Tags; Election buttons - both from elections
won and lost; footprint buttons from babies born; favors from weddings; silk flowers
from a baby shower; silk flowers from a wedding bouquet; dough ornaments older than
my marriage, given to me by a friend in college; I could go on and on. Like the lady in
Savannah, when I decorate the tree, I have the joy of reliving memories, of
remembering people and events. Our tree is an expression of our lives, a creation that
continues to grow each year, because each year there is something new to add to the
Thirty-three years ago, that lady in Savannah gave me a great gift. She shared with me
a small moment of her time and herself and that small seed that life can be something
that is worth re-living blossomed in me into something that has affected me and my
family. We love our tree and the special ornaments and mementos that hang from its
branches and we love the remembering what the tree brings to mind.
Today there is someone in each of our lives waiting for us to share with them some
great gift that the Lord has given us. Something that will be a seed that will blossom in
them to something great and beautiful. Perhaps it is just a kind word, or a thoughtful
look or an act of encouragement along the way. The world is full of hearts just waiting
for those seeds.
Hear; for I will speak of excellent things;
and the opening of my lips shall be right things.
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