Christmas Tree Saga
by Ann Siverling OblSB
Once upon a time there was me. And there was my friend Fern. We decided to share an apartment, and for the time we lived together, we had a blast, and we became deeper, forever friends. Because we were sharing an apartment, we both had to have some of our belongings in storage units. One of the things in my storage unit was my artificial Christmas tree. When my dear friend, Fern, moved to Florida to be with her daughter, I was able to move into my own place and bring all the contents of my storage unit to my new apartment.
When my first Christmas in that apartment was approaching, I gathered all of my Rubbermaid tubs of Christmas decorations and the Christmas tree in its storage bag into my apartment so I could decorate for the birth of Baby Jesus. I had the tree carefully packed in the storage unit, but it must have fallen and gotten shoved around and squished in the moving process, because when I took it out of its storage bag, it looked like this!
This horizontal, green mess did not look good--it looked like my tree was done for, kaput, hopeless. I took a deep breath, studied the situation, made my plan of attack for this tree, and worked to get it in its stand and at least vertical.
After a period of wrestling, or perhaps dancing, with this pile of tree, I managed to get it standing. So now it looked like this:
The tree still looked pretty misshapen, and the lights weren’t exactly on the tree where they were supposed to be. Could I possibly get this tree to work?!?! I sat down and really looked this tree over, not entirely sure what to do next. After considerable thought, I decided to continue to try to resurrect this tree. I pulled and pushed branches. I turned and bent the branches. I turned the tree to try and find its “best” side. (It didn’t have a best side--I would have to settle for as good as I could find.) After many attempts, and many “steps back to look at the tree,” I found my tree now looked a little less desperate:
Did I dare hope that I could get this tree looking good? I discovered if I turned it a certain way, when I sat in my living room, I couldn’t even see that it was leaning! I decided to keep going. I took all the lights off the tree and put them back on again. I like a LOT of lights on my tree, and I wrap them all the way down the branches. After some diligent work with the lights, my tree now looked like this:
Wow! I was becoming cautiously optimistic about this tree. Other than a few really lame branches that were hanging down really low, it looked okay. I figured I could arrange the presents under the tree to push up those branches, and the tree would look good. But it wasn’t finished just yet. It needed ornaments.
Now, other than the traditional “pickle” ornament that I hide in the Christmas tree, all of my Christmas tree ornaments are little nativity scenes. I carefully unpacked my precious ornaments and positioned them all around the tree, trying to fill in any gaps, placing the small nativity scenes at the top of the tree, the most beautiful in the front, and a sparse few on the back of the tree. Finally, I stepped back and looked at my tree, did a little more rearranging, added the final step – the garland, and my tree looked like this:
Simply amazing! The tree looked presentable. That evening as I sat in my living room with all of the lights off except for the Christmas tree, with a fire going in the fireplace and a glass of wine in my hand, I looked at the tree and reflected on the experience of setting up and decorating this tree. It brought to mind the Benedictine phrase, “always we begin again.” I really had to begin at the very beginning with this tree (maybe even farther back than the beginning). And as in our Benedictine faith we work at our relationships with God and with others, always striving to be more holy today than we were yesterday, I worked at making my tree presentable.
But the amazing thought I had about this tree in my reflections, was that it wasn’t done, it wasn’t saved, it wasn’t resurrected until Jesus showed up. The nativity scenes are what completed the tree, and the birth of the Baby Jesus (leading ultimately to his death and resurrection, which makes us righteous with God) is what completes us. We are not complete, righteous, or holy until Jesus arrives on the scene.
May you all experience this gorgeous gift of baby Jesus, our Savior, the one who completes us, and may this bring you peace. (And may your Christmas tree be beautiful and not lean in any direction!!)
Christmas Blessings to all of you,