Remember the old saying, “Money doesn’t grow on trees!!” While that’s true, I’ve found something else that grows on pine trees at Christmas time.
Each year our family and friends go on an adventure looking for the perfect Christmas tree. This tradition is the kick-off for our Christmas season. The adventure usually begins on a cold afternoon with a cloud-covered sky and if we’re lucky, it’s snowing. We fill our stomachs with chili, bundle up and off we go for the quest for our perfect tree.
This simple activity cost each family $8 for such a remarkable time together. When I think of what a little pine tree turned Christmas tree gives, is priceless.
Finding the perfect tree is elusive in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Sometimes we spend hours hiking over the river and through the woods, looking near and far for the tree that is perfectly shaped (without big gaps between branches) and the right height and width.
Rarely do we find a tree that meets all the above, specified criteria. It’s either too tall, too fat, too short or too much space between branches that we didn’t see when hunting for the right tree. Once we locate our picture perfect tree, we cut it down and celebrate with hot chocolate and cookies.
Realistically, this activity is not always as nice as it sounds. There is usually an argument between sisters, somebody loses a mitten, hat or saw in the woods and predictably, it’s a pain to bring the tree in the house.
Seldom do we like the tree at first sight once it’s in the house. It looks very different in the house than it looks in the forest. It’s a plain pine tree we’ve cut down, stuck in a tree stand and placed it in a corner somewhere; until we make it our Christmas tree. As we decorate the tree with each hand-made ornament and Christmas music playing in background, memories emerge and are cherished.
You see, each ornament was hand-made by my maternal grandparents and great Aunt. The memories attached to each ornament connect to people we deeply love with years of treasured memories.
As I stand back today and look at our tree full of special memories, perfectly placed twinkling lights and the first wrapped gifts of the season, I’m reminded that money can’t buy memories. Our tree lavishes us with so much more.
The whole Christmas tree cutting tradition, the lights, decorations and well-thought-out gift purchasing is a spiritual experience for me. It symbolizes stability, possibilities and gratitude. The tree is a symbol of God’s strength and commitment to us. The lights and ornaments remind me of all the goodness and opportunities in the world. When it’s dark outside and the world is filled with tragedy and strife, the twinkling lights shine brightly reminding me of how Light always outshines the dark! The beautifully wrapped gifts represent God’s greatest gift to us; His Son, Jesus Christ.
Isn’t that what Christmas is all about anyway. The recognition and celebration of the birth of our Savior. Why wouldn’t we rejoice and praise God with a spectacular tree!
Money can’t buy us eternal life nor gratitude. Money can buy things we may need or want, but money can’t buy us joy, contentment or savored memories. Our Christmas tree grows more than money; it produces lasting, meaningful memories and hope.
May you find a tree that grows more than money. As you look at your Christmas tree may you be blessed by the true meaning of Christmas.