November Blog – Women's Ministry

It was a cool December evening; it was the night – the one I had waited for. The night we got to go pick out our Christmas tree. I had my green corduroy jacket with the quilted inside and fake tan fur trim bordering the hood, my sister had a matching dark brown one. We pulled on our mittens and boots. It was time to get in the car and travel across town to the tree lot.

Upon our arrival, there were rows of lights that dangled above the trees to light up the lot. There was an old camper parked as though the person selling the trees lived in the camper while he was there. Left-over snow was scattered on the ground amidst strewn twigs and pine needles from trees being set up or purchased. As we got out of the car, I noticed my breath was warm as it hit the cool air making a fog which hung momentarily in front of my face.

We walked up and down each row, crunching the twigs and pine needles under our boots to carefully look and as a family, searching to find “the one” we would adorn with ornaments and tinsel at home. The tree vendor would pull one out, put it back to venture to the next potential tree, until we found the “perfect” one. The ceilings in our home were 8’ high, even those in our basement. Our tree was shorter and rounder, which was fine with me because I could reach higher to put ornaments on the limbs. The selection was made, then tying it to the roof of the car took a bit of doing. The excitement abounded in my heart as we traveled back across town.

Pulling in the driveway, I bounced from my seat in the car to watch what came next. My dad would get out his hand saw to cut off a few inches at the base of the tree trunk and a few lower branches so that it, of course, it would drink more water and last longer in the house without dropping needles. I loved the smell of the pine as my dad sawed back and forth; the fresh scent has always captured my attention, even now it makes me stop and draw a deep breath. Once the base was trimmed, we would hold open the doors letting “all the warm air out” of the house, as my parents would say.

The tree would tumble and brush against the door frame as we pushed/pulled and manipulated it through the doorway. Once in the house we would get the tree stand that still had sap on it from the previous year. There were 3 steel green prongs in the bottom that inserted into the trunk of the tree. My sister and I would adjust the slant of the tree as my mom directed us which way to tilt it. My dad would then tightened the bolts at the base of the tree. (Do you remember those tree-stands, ladies? They were not plastic like now.) Then again, the smell of the tree as my face was buried in the limbs, filled my nose, then my lungs and completely enveloped my attention as the Christmas spirit of decorating turned into total joy. The hardest part was waiting a day to decorate, to let the tree “fall” into place.

The next evening, we would get eggnog diluted with milk poured into a juice glass, so it would go farther. A few homemade cookies on a plate nearby were always available. We sipped on our eggnog as we strung lights, retrieved the boxes of ornaments we had, some we made, and some my mom had carefully purchased for us. There wasn’t a lot of extra money for these things, but each ornament was special and had a place on our tree.

Then, my favorite part: the tinsel, shiny and glimmering as we hung the strands on the tree. We had to hang the strands 1-2 at a time circling the tree. Round and round, lower and higher and round again we would go, until each of us had emptied the box of 500 strands and all had been hung. My mom would turn on the console-stereo record player. Take the records out of their jackets and place each of the albums on the spindle to be played. Bing Crosby, Dean Martin and the crew of “oldies” would find their way into our home, sharing with us a melody; we hummed and sang. When all was finished, we would sit down and turn off all the lights in the house. Then feeling accomplished and satisfied, stare at the beautiful tree, it’s lights, glistening tinsel and ornaments, with an angel for a treetop. In this moment, all was well, quiet and happy.

As a kid, what did I realize about the tree, besides the smell of fresh pine? Did I count the treasured time together, the smells of the yummy eggnog and cookies? Did I associate this experience with the newness of Christ’s birth? Did I consider the striving of Mary and Joseph did to listen to the Angel and His guidance to keep them safe? The Savior’s birth?

As we prepare our homes for the celebratory remembrance of our Lord’s birth, I am praying we absorb the décor in its deepest sense of joy and delight, because it is for him that we prepare, trimming our homes with fresh baked goods, gifts, festivity and lights. May our hearts be equally prepared for the Light of the World, Jesus. I pray you can take time to read His story found in Luke 2 or Matthew 1:18-2:23. Many blessings to you and yours throughout this worshipful, joyous and abundant season.

- Traci Hollingsworth