Thursday, December 26, 2013

The tree and the meaning of Christmas

I put up my tree for the first time in over four years this year.  I was late in putting it up, but at least it was up in our living room.  Now don't get me wrong--I love Christmas.  It's my favorite season, but somehow I just didn't have the time, or energy, or ability to put up the tree.
 First I was pregnant with Abbie and couldn't pick the thing up from out of the barn and drag it in.  It takes two adults two trips just to bring in the two huge boxes and the thing is sooo heavy and about 12 feet tall.  Then I was worried about an infant pulling down the bulbs.  Then I was exhausted from two toddlers.  I've been putting up small trees in the kids' rooms and allowing them to help me for the past few years, but this year I just decided I was going to do it.

 I asked my mother to come over and help and she was glad to.  I'm sure she regretted it after feeling how absolutely heavy the thing is.  We managed to get it in and put up.  Then I pulled out the ornaments only to realize they were covered in mold!  My beautiful tree.  What was I going to do.  Mold covered everything.  It smelled so bad.  I couldn't afford to go buy all new ornaments.  Then I remembered one of my neighboring teachers had mentioned that vinegar kills mold.  I bathed everything in vinegar.

It took some of the paint off a few ornaments, but they would do for this year.  The tree smelled a little funky, but it sparkled and shone (except where a few strands were out).
Harrison and I have had a few conversations about why Christmas is so important and why giving gifts reflects how God gave us the greatest gift.  We talked about how it was such a sacrifice and why our gifts should reflect thought and sacrifice.  I told him how so many people go to buy the best deal or cheapest gift they can and while it's good to be thrifty and wise with our money, we shouldn't forget the person and showing our care and thought when choosing a gift.  I wanted my kids to think more about giving gifts to others than getting stuff at Christmas.  Today I sat the children in front of the tree and asked them why we have a tree in our home when we celebrate the birth of Jesus.  Now I know their is a pagan side to the tree, but this is the reason we have a tree in our home.
 We talked about what that baby Jesus would grow up to become and how he would meet his end.  I asked the kids how he died.  Harrison caught on quickly that the cross was made of wood and wood comes from a tree.  It's so ironic to think that a tree of fruit (Genesis 3:11-13) first ushered sin in the world and a tree held salvation several generations later.
We talked again of God's sacrifice and how that baby tree that was small enough to fit in our home probably around the time Jesus was born would one day become the tree that Jesus was lay down his life upon.
 Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God’ (Ephesians 5:2)
Tears filled my eyes as I explained how I didn't think I would be able to sit back and watch anything hurt my children, but God had to watch as the world turned on his son and hung him from a tree.
My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?' (Mark 15:34)
 A tree...something so beautiful.  Something we decorate brightly at Christmas.  Harrison talked about how the star on the top reminded him of the star the wise men followed.  (Matthew 2:1-2)
 I explained that some people put angels on top because the angels told the shepherds about the good news.  (Luke 2:14-16)
The kids have gone back to playing and I'm debating on throwing these ornaments away or keeping them just in case, but this conversation is still there in my mind and I can't help but to think how much of a sacrifice it was for my heavenly father to set all of these events in motion for me and my family.  Through that sacrifice we have the hope of eternal life.
'For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.' (Romans 6:23)
I hope that they will understand the meaning in all that we do as they get older and never forget the importance of the tree and giving gifts to others.

May you remember the meaning behind the tree.  Merry Christmas!

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