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I’ve made it a practice to
share a Christmas memory each year. I know it is a busy time of year. I don’t
know how many people will actually read this, but for those of you here with me
now, I hope you will find a blessing in my story.
When our girls were young we
spent much of our Christmas holiday traveling the interstate between Ohio and
Florida. If you’ve spent much time in Florida you’ll find most people who live
there are from somewhere else. We call them “transplants.”
Tom and I were transplanted
the other direction. We moved from Florida to Ohio. Every year we loaded our
daughters, gifts, and a bagful of snacks and drove sixteen hours to spend
Christmas with our family. No regrets. We did, however, try to have a few
traditions apart from viewing the decorated houses on the route through Kentucky,
Tennessee, and Georgia.
Tom and I grew up with fresh
cut Christmas trees. This proved to be one tradition we found difficult to
continue when we moved to Ohio even though we tried. We would decorate the tree
the day after Thanksgiving, wrap gifts, entertain our friends, then load everything
in the van the minute school was out in December and drive away for a week or
more. When we returned we had unpacking to do, a pile of presents to put away
from loving grandparents, laundry facing us, and school and work routines back
on the clock.
We also had a dry and prickly
Christmas tree to be undecorated and cleared out of the house. It was a mess. I
lobbied for an artificial tree.
“We could decorate it and
leave it up forever if we wanted,” I said.
Tom couldn’t wrap his head
around an artificial tree.
As our children grew, we
split our Christmas break between Florida and various ski resorts in winter
wonderlands such as Colorado and Vermont. And we found a solution to the sticky,
dry, messy cut trees.
We bought a live tree. This
one had its roots balled in burlap. With care, we were able to enjoy the tree throughout
the Christmas season and it was still going strong in January. Tom followed the
guidelines provided by the nursery for the tree’s care after Christmas. We
eventually planted the tree in our yard. It was about three feet tall but
beautiful. “It’ll grow,” Tom told the girls.
That was tree one.
The next year we decided to
do the same thing. We decorated the second live tree for the inside and put
lights on the one outside. It was beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Tree
two was planted and the next summer we had two beautiful trees growing in our
yard. Trees filled with memories and birds.
This was our first live tree and yielded a "cut tree" a few years later.
Live trees can be expensive,
so the third year we decided to go back to our cut tree plan. The following Christmas
some neighborhood boys tried to take the top out of one of our trees. They were
not successful and Tom talked to them about respecting other people’s property.
He took his saw and removed the broken top of our sweet little evergreen. That
year, we decorated the topper as our tree. It was only a couple of feet tall,
but we all decided it was the most beautiful tree we could have imagined. After
all, it grew in our yard, right?
Two trees planted. Three trees trimmed.
We moved from that house a
year later and decided to purchase a life-like artificial tree. It was a big
move…not to the house but away from our traditional Christmas trees.
Our Two "Little" Christmas Trees
We’ve lived in this home for
over twenty years now. Recently, I drove over to our former house. I stood
outside and marveled at our little Christmas trees still growing in the yard.
The new owner was interested in the story behind the trees and with his
permission I had my picture taken in front of one of them. Our little three-foot
Christmas tree now towers above the second story of the house. It is the one
whose top was plucked from it. The second tree is as large. They stand there,
tall and magnificent and a reminder to me of Christmas past.
I pray you have a wonderful Christmas filled with
love, laughter, family, and traditions of your own. But most of all, I pray
this season you will seek a closer relationship with Jesus. Merry Christmas!