I wrote this story for a post in 2013, but because it still brings me to tears and reminds me of how blessed I am, it has become an annual retelling.
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 a Christmas that 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. The three of us did have a wonderful life together, but I was struggling financially. I was always careful about what I said in front of my then seven and eleven-year-old daughters. Time would come too soon for them to have big responsibilities, and I wanted to protect their childhoods as long as I could. In spite of my desire to not give them reason to worry about “grownup” things, I said, in earshot of my daughter, Sara, 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 spirit 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 thirty years ago. Awhile 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 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 five 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 rather 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 was even more beautiful than that.
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 peace full home.