True confession: I have an emotional connection… to my Christmas tree. Really. But before you call me kooky, consider this: Maybe you have that connection, too.
A Christmas tree isn’t just something we decorate. For many of us, it’s an evergreen montage of memories in the form of ornaments collected one or two at a time through the years, a hodge podge of shiny reminders of people and places and times.
As I put each ornament on the tree, I see before me the stages of my life hung on the branches. There’s the red sequined boot I made when I was a little girl, and the first ornament Hubs and I got as a married couple. There’s the heart my oldest son made in kindergarten, a rod for my younger fisher-son, and many from far away places I’ve been fortunate to visit. These take me back to happy and hopeful times.
But there are also a few ornaments on my tree that pull me into the quiet of myself with memories of the ones I love who are no longer here to celebrate with me, or things that have changed in not so good ways. These are the bittersweet ornaments of Christmas. The decorated tree has become a symbol of all that life is, with its mix of good and its difficult.
There’s a beautiful irony to this tree of mine. Both the bitter and the sweet hang on evergreen branches beneath the most important ornament of all: the star on top. This is the symbol that calls us to look up beyond the earthly collection of our lives, beyond all that has been and all that is now. Look up and be reminded of the Baby who sees us in our joy, in our pain, in our love and our loss, the One who reminds us of all that is possible, all that has yet to be seen. This is the One who loves us where we are, the way we are, the way our lives are. Maybe there’s not just an emotional connection with my Christmas tree. Maybe it’s a Spiritual one, too.
There’s a miracle in the midst of this season, but we can miss it with all of the accoutrements that our culture has heaped on Christmas, and with the pain that life can heap on us. See beyond the decorations and exhausting preparations, past the window dressing and loss of all kinds. Look up. Know He is there waiting for you to notice , waiting to tell you that you are beloved, waiting to spend time with you and comfort you, waiting for you to put your focus on what Christmas really is.
May you lift your eyes and feel God’s healing, loving Grace pour over you no matter where you find your heart or your life this season.
With overflowing love, I wish you a merry Christmas, happy holidays, and a very strong sense of God’s enduring Peace and Love,