I love this tree.
The biggest, fattest christmas tree we have had in years .
I found it at the grocery store leaning on the wall.
I wasn’t there to buy a tree
I was there to run in to do the everyday things, pick up lunchmeat for the kids, grab some milk, wait for prescriptions for mom. I was even in the little car.
But the scent of the fresh pine trees caught me as I walked through the breezeway. I poked along the wall to see the biggest one I could get for the money
I love living in a neighborhood where I know the grocery store attendants. I asked one to find the best 8-9 foot tree he could find. He plopped one out on the sidewalk. A man walking out gave the affirmation: “That’s a great tree!” Sold. But I wasn’t planning on this purchase, and would have to come back to get it since i was in the little car, for the original plan was to pick out a tree together as a family.
Every year we get a fresh tree
despite the trouble of tying it to the top of the car
putting it on the stand
dragging it in the house
making sure it is straight.
It is a joke every year about the tree, that next year we will get an artificial one.
We are not a handy family. Even the simplest things like changing light bulbs are a major ordeal, a major accomplishment in our house.
So to bring in a 9 foot tree into our home, straight, without crashing over, ornaments and all, is a feat in out home.
This year, I cheated…..not only did the attendant pick out the biggest, fattest tree for me, he offered to put it in the stand too….. and on top of that, the store manager offered to throw it in the back of his truck and deliver it to my home!
…….I felt a little guilty,
but hey, they benefitted,
we all benefitted!
A gift of time, no headache
and a big fat tree sitting straight up in our family room.
A big fat tree too big for the stand, dropping needles all over the tile, and had to be adjusted and restraightened and straightened several times by the kids. Its big fat trunk finally pointed straight up in all its glory
...in this moment, in this middle of midwinter, in the dark of your very thickest thicket, there’s the rough bark of the Tree… Ann Voskamp
This tree and its story how it arrived in my home, gives me a smile and laugh in what started as a bad week. Even though it is warm here in Florida, I had been struggling to find warmth in a darkness, a darkness of doubt and bitterness….
Am I doing the right thing, having my mother here in my home
how has it affected my kids, my marriage, me???
As this disease develops, it will only become worse, and I will distance my heart even more as I watch the progression, as I continue to repeat my words, remind her that my dad has passed, that her mother has passed.
I remember this picture
one of the few photos I have as a child…
my mom reaching for my hand at Christmas.
We didn’t have much then, that’s why there are so few photos.
The few gifts were there in the picture.
But in the sparse surroundings
none of the excess I have now
there was love, hope,
a dream fulfilled, growing,
of coming to a new land of promise,
to live in America
to have a new life
to have a new beginning.
So I press on
to give her a peaceful ending
to surround her with the love she willingly surrounded me with during my beginning
and even though my tendency is to not want to watch this ending
I have to hold fast and return to the hopes of the very small tree of my first Christmas
if there even was one.
Now I look upon my big fat tree in my big fat family room
with boxes of unused ornaments and decorations that haven’t even made it to the tree or to the table or to the door
and reflect on dreams fulfilled, many because of the selflessness and prayers of my mother.
Life is full.
31 years of ornaments in a box.
Many reflecting milestones, markers in my family…
our first home, our first baby, our trips around the country and the world
markers to be placed on our tree
This year, this big fat tree, even halfway decorated
means more as I read more words from Ann Voskamp…
Advent is the time to see the Tree in your thicket and whisper the echoing words of your God: Now I know. Now I know. Since you did not spare your only Son, how will You not also graciously give us–even me–all things you know I need?
I need peace
to remember am doing the right thing.
I need strength
for I grow weary of this task, this burden, this guilt of feeling that this is a burden even though she was always there for me.
Because of this turmoil in my soul, the Christmas need/ want list is changing for me.
The things I used to ask for…. a new sweater,, something for the house….yes I do still love and enjoy those things….
but this year the list is morphing into different wants…
I want my children to know and trust their future paths
one, career choices,
another, college options,
another, just get through college classes,
another, courage to follow her dreams..
and they all have the gift of an endlessly hardworking father who gives them opportunity to chase those dreams.
My greatest, most precious gift, is that each of them know and love the One that died on that Tree, who was born to us in a manger this Christmas season.
My gift, is the joy of watching each of them grow in their passion for that One, as they live out each day in a world that does not feel the same, yet they shine in their corners of the world where that One has placed them.
My gift, though I don’t always see it, is the depth of the soul of my mother in our home, living out her days, her love for Jesus remaining despite foggy senses of what is immediately around her.
That is her gift to all of us
to be fully aware of the One above
the one she points to and says she is ready to go
for even though she is not fully aware of date or time or persons or events
she still remains fully aware of Him….
and that is how we all should live.
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever….Hebrews 13:8