Being together matters most

Published 1:53 am Saturday, December 24, 2011

Last December when I pulled out the color-coded branches of our years-old artificial Christmas tree, I remembered what a struggle it had become to put it together. The paint had faded at the insertion point of the branches. Some of them just didn’t fit very well when I put them into the base of the tree. Besides, I had to string lights round and round the tree, and then hunt for plugs to hook them together. Right then and there I made a decision. I shut the storage building door, went inside, grabbed my car keys, and went shopping. I returned home with a smaller tree with lights.

“No matter that we accumulated strings and strings of lights through the years,” I told myself on the drive home. “No matter that this tree won’t take up nearly the space the old one did at the front window. No matter that I’ll probably need only about half those beautiful crystal ornaments I started collecting more than 20 years ago. No matter…”

Back home, my daughter took the tree out of the box. Assembly was simple, as promised. I liked that. We plugged in the lights. I loved that. But…well, the tree was scrawny. “Don’t worry, Mom. Once it’s decorated, it will be beautiful,” my daughter assured me.

I nodded and brought out the box of ornaments. It was dark when I finished decorating. I took a look and decided she was right. Then I went outside to check the view from the window. Well, it certainly wasn’t as big as the other tree, but the important thing was, it was there for my family to enjoy inside and for those who passed by to enjoy outside.

I pondered those thoughts as I assembled and decorated the tree this year. I loaded it even more with my prized ornaments. I wanted to make the house as festive as possible. The most important thing is that my family is together for Christmas this year.

Even if there was no tree, not one red bow, not one album of classic Christmas music filtering over the house, or one large turkey breast baking in the oven, we who clung together during the most difficult time of our lives during this season last year are thankful to be together this year to celebrate the birthday of our Lord Jesus Christ.

At the same time, we will honor the memory of my husband, Claude, a godly man who so much enjoyed and loved this season. To him, every Christmas tree from the Charlie Brown tree we once had that shed all its needles by Christmas day, to every twinkling light, every sprig of holly, every Christmas wreath, every Christmas carol and hymn sung, was a celebration of the birth of Jesus. He lives on in our hearts and we know he will be with us as we gather by our tree to read the Christmas scripture.

I wish you and yours a joyful Christmas.