Stories about Christmas abound. Some of those stories are filled with the sadness of missing a loved one. Others retell a time when we were far from home, or Christmas didn’t turn out the way we painted it in our imaginations. Mostly, however, the stories we share are the happy ones. This is one of those tales.
In December of 1988, I was working hard to keep a roof over my girls’ heads. We were, as I shared before, struggling financially. I was always cognizant of being careful about what I said in front of an eight and an eleven-year-old. I figured there was time enough for them to grow up and have those kinds of responsibilities, and the three of us did have a wonderful (if not financially prosperous) life together. Despite my desire to not give them a reason to worry about certain things, I said, in earshot of my daughter, that I had no idea how I was going to swing buying a Christmas tree that year. Of course, when that happened, I didn’t know it. But she, in her wise, eleven-year-old brain, hung on to it.
One winter day, about a week before Christmas, the girls were out playing in the yard. There was snow on the ground. I’d look out the back door occasionally to check on them, then go back to doing whatever Mom’s did 25 years ago. A while later, there was a knock on the front door. There standing on my front porch were two little angels with rosy cheeks and snow on their hats. Standing between them was “The Christmas Tree.” It was about 4′ tall. It was covered with snow, and it was being held up by these two beautiful girls with looks of pride, love, accomplishment, and joy on their faces. As the story goes, they cut down a tree that we had planted, as a little pine sapling, about 5 years earlier, so that we’d have a Christmas tree. What Mom gets to have that moment? What Mom has the gift of a child not saying “I want…” but instead thinking about how she can take the Christmas tree off her Mom’s list? Who wouldn’t take that moment and hold it in her heart forever?
Most of us know the story about Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree. You know, the one that he got made fun of for choosing, the same one that by the end of the day he had everyone singing around? This little tree wasn’t like that. It was tiny, but it was beautiful. That tree said so much in its silence. It said, “everything is going to be alright.” It said, “the world IS a good place to be.” It said, “you have the greatest gift of all in those two little girls.” It said, “We love you, Mom.” It said, “you are blessed.” It said, “this is the true meaning of Christmas.” Amen to that. Amen to the lessons gentle souls teach us. Amen to a peaceful home.