Saturday, November 28, 2009

Mercy to Me From a Salvation Army Christmas Tree

I don't know exactly what it was that made us do it. Maybe the fact that the last few years, the boys seem to get these colds that don't go away until we take down the Christmas tree (my friend's pediatrician told her that real trees in the house can exacerbate allergies). Maybe it was because little kids and real trees don't mix that well (playing in the tree water, pulling at the needles...). Maybe it was because buying a new tree each year starts to get expensive after awhile.

Then there was the fact that I wanted to put a tree up today but my husband has the flu, so I knew the whole going-out-to-find-the-perfect-tree bit wouldn't work. Combine that with my $20 (rounded up) credit at the Salvation Army, and it was enough to drive me to the edge. I drove to the Salvation Army in search of the perfect artificial, secondhand Christmas tree. Before I left, my husband's parting words to me were "Make sure it doesn't smell like moth balls or cat pee" (exact quote).

Once inside, I was overwhelmed with the selection (ok, not exactly). But there were quite a few to choose from. I quickly ruled out those that did not meet my husband's strict criteria, and I was left with two nice choices. Both were 7.5 feet; one was a spruce, and one said "Arcadian Cashmere" (I don't really know what that is, but it looked elegant in the box). Being from Michigan, the spruce was what I envision when I think of "Christmas tree." Being from Wyoming, the thinner, more "see-through" tree is what my husband envisions. With that, we have a problem.

So I'm standing in the Salvation Army trying to decide what tree to get, and my boys are running laps around the trees and appliances, wrestling (each other, not other customers), and stuffing stuffed animals in a refrigerator. They were looking dangerously close to climbing in the freezer, and I knew I had to get them out of But I was at a cross-roads: the more expensive, thinner tree that was a cinch to assemble; or the less expensive, thicker, more artificial-looking tree that was also more complicated to put together? Agggh. (I can be incredibly indecisive. I think I called my husband five times...) :)

Ok, so I know you're dying to hear what I decided. (Oh, you're not? Well, let's pretend anyway) :).

Here you go--

It's the more expensive, thinner tree (maybe I should have poked my head out from the other side under some of these still could have seen me!)

A few hours later, we have this:

need to adjust some bows and add more ornaments and a tree-topper, but you get the idea...

(Does this tree look thinner than me?) :)

Now for the moral of the story: (yes, there is one, and I know you're on the edge of your seat to hear it) :)

Christmas trees have kind of become status symbols. The better off you are, the bigger and fuller your tree (usually). Giant trees are very grand and awe-inspiring, but plunking one down in your living room takes an equally awe-inspiring amount of cash.

Especially as women, we work so hard to decorate our homes and make them beautiful and whimsical for the holidays that it's easy--and understandable--to want a majestic tree as the centerpiece of our Christmas decor. What I reflected on, though, when I realized my "new-to-me" fake tree did not live up to my expectations of what a tree in my home should be is that the tree is really not the pinnacle of the celebration. The Creator of the tree is (I don't mean the man in China who put it all together). :)

This little humble tree from the Salvation Army helps me remember that it is in humility Christ came to earth as an infant. It is humility in us He esteems. The tree, as with all our decorations, should point to Him, not to us. Humility reminds us to gulp our pride down. That is why this is the perfect tree for me.

"My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant...His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation. He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty..."-- Mary's song, Luke 1:46-53
It is for this tree, and the lessons from it, that I am grateful.

holy experience

1 comment:

  1. How timely this post was for me, Cheryl. As we retrieved our Christmas things from the garage and started putting our tree together (an 80%, beautiful, pre-lit markdown at Hobby Lobby about 5 years ago) I knew we had problems. As wonderful and easy as pre-lit trees are when they work, they are a huge pain when they don't.

    In my flesh, I would have liked to march out and buy a real one since we haven't done that in awhile, but 'tis the season to be making every dollar count. So........instead of the beautiful 7.5 foot tree we have had the last few years, there is a beautiful 6.5 tree that was left in our garage when we moved in. The girls have used it once or twice in the basement and Phil came dangerously close to throwing it away a time or two. I added a bigger bow on top and some complimenting colors of ribbon and it looks wonderful! However it's not the tree or the ribbon, but the memories each ornament holds and the reason the tree is up in the first place!!

    Great post - thanks for sharing.

    P.S. I laughed at your indecision between the trees. I am exactly opposite of that. I tend to decide NOW and process pros and cons later (not always helpful once purchase is made, but after thinking things through, I usually would have made the same decision as my initial gut one.....)