Stories about Christmas abound. Some of them are filled with the sadness of missing a loved one. Others recall times when we were far from home, or Christmas didn’t turn out how we painted it in our Currier and Ives imaginations. Mostly, however, the stories we share are the happy ones. This is one of those tales.
In December of 1988, I struggled financially, working hard to keep a roof over my girls’ heads, but always cognizant of being careful about what I said in front of my seven and eleven-year-old daughters. We had a wonderful life together, and there was time enough for them to grow up and have adult responsibilities. Despite my desire not to give them a reason to worry about certain things, I said (unaware that I was in earshot of my daughter) that I had no idea how 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 where snow blanketed the ground. I’d look out the back door occasionally to check on them, then go back to doing whatever Mom’s did 30 years ago. A while later, there was a knock on the front door. There, standing on our 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 of 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 her silence. She said, “everything is going to be alright.” She said, “the world is a good place to be.” She said, “you have the greatest gifts of all in those two little girls.” She said, “you are loved.” She said, “you are blessed.” She said, “this is the true meaning of Christmas.”
Amen to that. Amen to the lessons gentle souls teach us. Amen to a peaceful home.