I never thought I’d see the day.
There are some things that just aren’t negotiable, and this was one of those things. Compromising this point would be like Billy Graham replacing Just As I Am with Boot Scoot Boogie as invitation music. But it happened. As shocking as it may seem, as unbelievable as it may sound, the Case family bought an artificial Christmas tree.
Gone forever is that sweet aroma of fresh pine sap dripping onto the carpet. Gone is the crisp feel of real pine needles penetrating bare feet, and those rich reminders of Christmas that surface unexpectedly in May, while rearranging the furniture. Gone is the holiday tradition of cutting the base of the tree off so it can absorb water, and then cutting off a little more and trimming branches to make it look right. Funny, they always look taller at the tree lots. And, banished forever is the use of cherished Christmas phrases like “we can put that side in the back, against the wall” and “I thought you watered the tree.”
I didn’t go down without a fight, but all of Sharon’s arguments made sense. After surveying the prices of quality “real” trees, it seemed like the right thing to do.
We assembled our new tree Saturday night. I should give credit where credit is due; our daughter Sara assembled the tree when I wasn’t watching. Although she had been even more opposed to an artificial tree than I, she took the project and made it come to life. She did a great job of bending all those fake branches to make our fake tree look a little less fake.
We decorated our new tree the next night. 600 little lights, and of course all of our “special” ornaments, each with a story behind it, history recited as they were assigned places of residence on the new fake tree. But it’s still a fake.
OK, I’ll admit it. It’s a nice fake tree. It wasn’t a lot of money, it looks fairly authentic, and I don’t have to remember to water it. Even though I still miss some things about the old fashioned “real” tree, this one will serve us well. We made the right decision. I can live with a fake tree, as long as we don’t have a fake Christmas, too.
This time of year, it’s easy to get our priorities fouled up and mis-ordered. We can get so caught up in our shopping and decorating that we miss the whole focal point of Christmas: Celebrating the birth of Christ. If we allow our focus to fall primarily on trees, lights, gifts, parties and the other trappings of the season, we’ll miss out on the best part. It’s the part that lingers long after the trees and lights have been tucked away in the attic. It’s the part that attracts so many to the celebration of Christmas. It’s the part that, if overlooked, leaves us with the post-Christmas blues. It’s a word that we toss around as readily as those ancient fruitcakes, yet many never come to experience and understand its deeper meaning.
It is, quite simply, Joy—the three-letter word that encapsulates the focal point of the season. Until you have Jesus in control of your life, you’ll never really experience Joy. Once you do, it will change your perspective on Christmas—for all eternity!