I had hoped to start this post with a dazzling photo of our new Christmas tree and tell you how absolutely perfect every single ornament is. I would love to tell you that starting new traditions in a land where nothing feels, sounds, looks or smells the same has been a complete joy and an incredible opportunity to treasure Christ more in the simplicity of the season. Ideally, I would tell you that stripping away everything that was familiar about our family Christmas and embracing new
ornaments holiday foods decorations everything has been met with overwhelming gratitude…but, that wouldn’t be the truth. Let me explain.
Last Christmas we got rid of all our Christmas decorations except for the things that held deep, deep meaning. I was left with one plastic tub and if you’ve known me for long you know that means we got rid of a lot of stuff. I LOVE Christmas and the decor on/in my house each year was a reflection of that. Two weeks before we moved we received some great advice from a friend that went something like this, “Don’t take anything with you that you aren’t willing to lose.”
Oh, well…um, I guess that changes things a bit.
We made a last minute decision to leave the Christmas stuff in my parents attic with grandiose plans of getting new things when we moved. Now, fast forward to December 3rd when we set out as a family to get a tree from our local mall. Yes, I meant to type the word mall. The trees here are all artificial unless you buy a real one that has been imported from another country and you sell one of your kidneys to pay for it because they are that expensive.
We walked into the mall together as I envisioned what our new tree would look like. I had the perfect size in my head and knew the exact color scheme I wanted. I knew that white twinkle lights would be the perfect thing to create the exact glow I was hoping for. Unfortunately, when we arrived, none of the things I had on my list were even a vague possibility. To put it nicely, everything in the
store mall city looked like it was at one time sitting on a shelf at the local Dollar Tree in the 1980’s…and that’s putting it nicely.
I walked up and down the aisles hoping to find something that would work. All the while my boys were buzzing around like they’d just consumed a six pack of Red Bull picking out every little thing their hearts desired. Our cart was full as we headed to the register.
By the time I climbed into the back of the taxi and started the long ride home I was desperately trying to fight back the tears. The multicolored LED lights my boys had chosen looked like they belonged in a night club. There was no such thing as a tree skirt, so a cheap table cloth would have to do the trick. The tree was shorter than me and the shiny plastic pine needles screamed “cheap plastic tree.” My Christmas spirit was crushed, my heart was sad and with every passing mile I became more and more deflated.
I brewed a cup of tea and sat in the kitchen to sulk. I scrolled through my Instagram feed only to see that everyone else in the entire known world had enormous Christmas trees with perfectly placed ornaments worthy of being pinned on the “World’s Best Christmas Tree” Pinterest page. I vowed to not post a photo of our tree because it would not be worthy of remembering. I would put the tree up and pretend like it never happened. Really mature, huh? I’m just being honest folks…it was an ugly night and my sin was on display for all to see.
I was sitting at the kitchen table with a frown on my face and tears in my eyes when my oldest son climbed out of bed and strolled into see me. The words that poured from his eight year old heart and the excitement that radiated from his beautiful face can’t possibly be contained in a blog post. “Mom?” he began, in full anticipation of being sent back to bed. “I love the green lights you and dad put up in our room and I think our Christmas tree is going to be awesome! This really is going to be the best Christmas ever!!!!”
I don’t need to tell you the deep conviction I felt in that moment or how the Lord was so kind to use the gratitude of an eight year old child to open my eyes to truth and convict me of my self pity. But, I do need to tell you that HE alone is gracious to restore and I can testify first hand to the truth found in Psalm 30:11 “You have turned my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness.”
The boys have worked diligently over the last few weeks to make each and every ornament on our tree. Construction paper, popsicle sticks, craft foam and recycled trash have all found a home on our tree and I can honestly say I’m delighted to share it with you.
Despite an unfortunate beginning for our little tree I must admit, I’ve grown to love everything about it, especially the multicolored strobe lights.
So, from a land where they have not yet embraced the whole “Christmas” thing yet… Merry Christmas!