I sort of have a…well, a thing…about Christmas trees. [No, I don’t have issues.] Growing up, my family had FAKE trees. (You know. Christmas tree by the colors. Blue branches at the bottom. Orange, next. Green…Yellow…black.) I am not going to really attempt to formulate a complaint about those formative years, here–because my growing-up Christmases were always happy. I’ll simply say that I love A REAL TREE exponentially better than an ARTIFICIAL one. (Even if it can come “pre-lit.”)
Maybe it’s the George Bailey in me, but things at Christmas are supposed to be REAL. The Christmas-decorating experience should induce a completely human response. It’s doubtful that something that dustily comes out of a box once-a-year can compete with the real human, emotional response that arises from a tree that was just obtained from the forest–especially when you can smell that it did! I love a tree that you’ve got to religiously water or take the very realistic chance of rendering your house “pre-lit” because it went up in flames. I love the fact that it takes two or three days for me to wash off that sappy substance that gets all over my hands and hair when I have to set my real Christmas tree up. I love watching my wife have to sweep up all of those needles. (She’s cute when she sweeps. THERE’S NO CUTENESS LIKE THAT WHEN A GUY’S GOT A FAKE TREE.)
Since college, I have obtained live trees in December from all kinds of places:  Side of the road ma-and-pa vendors who haul them in themselves from Michigan (the one good thing that comes out of that place).  Chopping them down personally at a tree farm.  Stores that sell live trees by volume. For goodness’ sake, I’ll even confess to  three straight years of chopping down (under cover of darkness) and stealing evergreens from a place that was really, really wrong to steal from. (This regrettably happened during college. I’m leaving names, dates, and places out to continue to be one step ahead of 15-year-old consequences. Think of the irony: STEALING a Christmas tree to celebrate the World’s Greatest FREE GIFT–Jesus! Sheesh. Note to self: We’re all brain-dead until we have kids.)
While determined to still acquire our REAL tree, this year we decided to purchase one at a cost that displays more steward-like responsibility. (Thinking of the many different ways we could use the money we saved for more virtuous purposes.) Unfortunately, we drove down the road and found NO trees that met our height requirements or expectations. Almost every one was a glorified Charlie-Brown-adventure waiting for a family. But we stumbled upon one that was certainly of a height that would make it appropriate in our home. The only catch: this tree was so skinny and bare, it would have made Kate Moss feel like she needed to step up her dieting. This thing was scrawny. Anemic. So all 5 of us stood there in the light flurries and frozen tundra–staring at it. I’m holding it up, and my wife looks at it and starts to laugh. (But, the un-suppressible bean-counter in her looked at the price tag of $24.99 and said, “Get it.”) I just couldn’t pull the trigger, though. I mean, come on. If you’re fatter than your own tree…you’ve got a problem…and so does your tree.
So, I leaned it back in with its cousins and took off for another tree vendor. My wife warned me, “Somebody’s going to take that tree. I saw a guy eyeing it when you were holding it up.” I said something smart back at her…seriously doubting that anyone would want THAT tree. Of course, the tree huckster down the road wanted me to hand over my first-born and establish a 2nd mortgage to buy a tree there, so I ran back to obtain our cute little Kate Moss Christmas tree for under $25.
She was gone. [That guy!]
Christmas karma biting me in the sugar-plum, I guess, for ripping off those other three back in the day. Something inside of me felt terribly disappointed, though. I actually had started to look forward to dressing up that bony little twig. (Think of the money we would have saved in electricity alone…only having to use one strand of Christmas lights instead of 6. Plus, I realized I could use it as a 2×4 after Christmas was over or something.) Seriously though, some raw nostalgia triggered in me.
Well, we ended up getting another scrubby REAL TREE, turned on the tunes, set it up, drank our egg nog, and turned off all the lights in the house to see it illuminated. The usual pleasures arose in me.
But, I believe a lot of people BY-PASS THEIR OWN “TREE” BECAUSE THEY SURMISE IT JUST DOESN’T MEASURE UP TO THEIR STATUS QUO EXPECTATIONS. Of course, as I speak about this other kind of “Tree,” I don’t mean the spindly green one we set up in our living rooms in December. I mean the “Tree” of the final moments of the Christmas Child. The Tree of the Sacrificial Jesus. The TOTAL CHRISTMAS MESSAGE. The Tree of the Cross Jesus intended to go to–the reason He allowed Himself to be born into this broken world, in the first place.
Jesus’ gift to the world wasn’t a holiday–for the obtaining of free stuff and days off in December. It was THE Tree. That truth may be raw, but it’s REAL. Friends and loved ones, the best thing we can do is by-pass the artificial and superficial decor in which we dress our current Christmases.
And search for the REAL TREE. When we do, it will trigger more than nostalgia. Don’t pass HIM up. He’s the One.
“I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony. I am THE ROOT and the Offspring of David, and THE BRIGHT Morning STAR … Come!” Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift” (in the final thoughts of the Bible–niv).