Luke2:6-7 – When they arrived in Bethlehem, Mary went into labor, and there she gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped the newborn baby in strips of cloth, and Mary and Joseph laid him in a feeding trough since there was no available space in any upper room in the village.
It started out as a pretty tree.
Hubby Rick humored me and helped me pick out this real tree. I am a little anal about somethings. And one of those things is a real tree. We put the tree in the back of his 1996 Chevy pick-up that used to be his Dad’s. Back home, he made a fresh cut to the trunk, just like we have every other of the 20 trees real trees we have put up in our house. We set the tree up in our entry way, which is where I always put the tree. In fact, when I first walked into our house and long before I knew we would actually live here, my first thought was, “This is exactly where I will put the tree.” And I have put a tree in this spot ever year since. Some years, the tree doesn’t fit just right. This year? Just the right height without being too fat.
The tree was filled with lots and lots of lights and a variety of ornaments. After it was decorated, I stepped back, sat down in the adjoining room. I had turned off all the lights except the tree lights. It looked so pretty and brought beautiful joy to the end of my day. My heart was full.
A couple days later some friends were at our house. They ooohed and aaaahed over the tree and thought it fit just right in our entry way. I mentioned that it is not perfectly shaped … but I could live with the not-perfect-shape because being perfect should not be our biggest desire during Christmas.
Almost right away, though, it seemed that more needles were falling off the branches than normal. I checked the water daily, just to make sure. Rick even rigged up a little funnel in the tree so it would be easy to water. And yet, some days while sitting in the parlor, it almost sounded like it was raining. There weren’t rain drops outside. It was needles falling on the hardwood flowers.
Last weekend, we were gone for a few days. We came home to a serious carpet of needles around the bottom of the tree. Hubby Rick got out the shop vac and sucked they all away. By the next morning, another needle carpet graced the floor.
The amount of needles falling daily has slowed down, but only because there are barely any more needles available to fall off the branches. The top three-fourths of the tree is basically bare branches with just a few pinecones hanging down.
Our beautiful tree has become a total Charlie Brown Christmas tree. And by Christmas when family will gather at our house, I’m thinking we will have a completely bare tree. Seriously.
Hubby Rick and I have had the conversation: do we take the tree down and TRY to find another tree when trees are seemingly in very tight supply? Or do we live with our Charlie Brown tree?
We’re living with our Charlie Brown one.
Growing up, my family always had a Charlie Brown tree. My sisters and I would go with our Dad up to the woods that our family had planted years earlier. We’d pick out the tree that seemingly had the fewest holes in it. The tree went up just a few days before Christmas and was filled with our hand-made ornaments. Then, we hung tons and tons of tinsel to try and cover-up all those holes.
And we loved it because it was our tree.
For some reason, we put so much pressure on ourselves and our families and each other to create this picture-perfect Christmas. And while it may seem that we’ve got everything somewhat organized and together, something happens and we end up with a Charlie Brown Christmas.
While the holidays are often associated with joy and happiness. But for many, the holidays are simply difficult. Challenging. Disappointing. Lonely.
There’s a Christmas carol that goes, “the weary world rejoices.”
Anyone else feel like their world is a little weary right now?
Weary because there is grief.
Wearily filled with anxiety.
Wearily anticipating feeling let-down because of something.
Weary from over expectations and under-results.
We often forget WHY Jesus was born on Christmas. Jesus came as a baby in a stinky, smelly manger not for those in celebration. Jesus came for those in mourning.
Jesus came for those who are missing a loved one whose chair will sit empty. Jesus came for the loved one who is unable to be with family because of strained relationships. Jesus came for those experiencing heartache and sadness. Jesus didn’t come for the perfect and ideal. No, Jesus came for the broken, the hurting, the lost.
If you are feeling a bit broken right now, it’s OK. If you are grieving or fearful or have a heavy heart, please give yourself permission to let it be. Jesus came as a Savior for where you are right now. Not where you think you should be or where you want to be. Jesus accepts you just as you are.
Now, can you give yourself permission to accept where you are right now?
Emmanuel is “God with us.” Wherever that may be. Whether it’s a gorgeous tree with the right amount of decorations. Or if it’s a Charlie Brown tree with barely any needles still on the branches. Or somewhere in-between. If God can be OK with where you are, can you be OK with this as well?
After the line about the “weary world rejoicing,” here’s how the Christmas song ends:
“Fall on your knees, Oh hear the angel voices!
O night divine, O night when Christ was born!
O night, O holy night, O night divine!”
May we fall on our knees, peak inside the manger and remember why Christ was born: for those who need him the most.
Just a bit more inspiration on the eve of Christmas Eve.
For Charlie Brown Christmas trees and a reality check, I am grateful.
P.S. – You can find me taking down the tree on Dec. 26!
Dear God – Thank you for an imperfect Christmas tree and the little message that You sent Jesus not for the perfect but the imperfect. For the hurting and grieving. For those who feel their Christmas will be more like a Charlie Brown tree. For those with weary souls, may we fall on our knees and see the baby lying in the manger who came for me, just the way I am. Amen.
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