It’s Beginning to Lean a Lot Like Christmas

Once again I am proud to tout in this esteemed article that we have a beautiful Christmas tree in our Living/Family/Herding room. It is a Frazier Fir, ten feet tall and full all around. In keeping with tradition we purchased the tree a few days after Thanksgiving and soon filled it with endless strands of lights and Christmas ornaments that are kooky but special. We have enjoyed the tree ever since.

Once again we have the same small problem that nags us every year: the tree is leaning. I have tried everything to remedy the problem. I have readjusted the stand; trimmed limbs; prayed over it and now I am just trying to ignore the tilt altogether. Our evening dialogue goes something like this: “Honey, the tree is leaning,” says Amy. “No it is not,” I reply, “your eyes are just tilted. The tree looks fine.” And then to add a final statement assuring authority on the subject I say, “Besides, it looks more natural leaning like it is.” Eventually I start brooding. I cannot blame it on the tree and the stand seems to be working fine. Our house is not leaning. This is just one more thing that goes along with Christmas: even the best Christmas plans fall short of perfection.

Is your Christmas perfect? I am sure it is not. Not only do trees lean and strands of light fizzle out, but people disappoint, illness sets in, and the unexpected and unplanned lands at the doorstep. When we try to pretend that we can pull off the “perfect” Christmas, watch out – not only will the Christmas tree lean, but disappointment and depression can enter as unwelcome guests. Peace and joy? Forget about it!

Maybe a leaning tree is as good a reminder as any that this is what Christmas is not about. Amidst a surging crowd, inns too full for company and while a new tax was about to be levied, a Child was born in a trough.

Please don’t misunderstand me: it would bring me great pleasure to have the folks at Southern Living call on us to say they would like to feature our house in their next December issue. In reality, the only hope we have in that happening is if they want to show off popsicle stick ornaments coated by old dog hair (we are going for the shabby sheik look).

The good news is that even when our lives fall disappointingly short of expectations (and they always do), God is working best. We read that it is in the least likely places and faces where Mary pondered, angels proclaimed and shepherds abided in astonishment.

 May we, when the tree leans, say along with Mary, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord…” (Luke 1:38)

 Here I am too, with you,