past banners explained

"Decorating the Christmas Tree With Dad"

I'm not sure what it was like for you as a child, but in our house, when it came to decorating the Christmas tree, you never knew what to expect. Each year was a little different than the year before, but there was never a dull moment. We always chose a day on the weekend to cut down our tree (or, when time was limited, we just cut one out of the neighbor's yards - no just kidding). Each tree had a personality of it's own. Some were wide, some were thin; some were tall, some were short; some looked sickly and needed a home, while others seemed almost perfect. Whatever tree we chose, we always made the best of it.

When it came to pulling out the Christmas tree decorations, dad would crawl into the attic and pull out several large boxes, each one carefully packed and marked as fragile. When it came time to begin decorating, dad made sure Christmas music was playing in the background just to set the atmosphere (not that we needed anymore excitement in our home because the holidays were always filled with fun).

Since many of our decorations were handmade, we had to gently unwrap them. And when we discovered which ornament we unwrapped, it was like strolling down memory lane. Every ornament had a story behind them. Some were dated back to when my parents were children or when they first got married. Some were fairly new and shined brightly on the tree limbs, while others looked well-worn, lacking any form of luster. Basically, there were new decorations mixed in with old ones. Many of these were made in our schools or at home with mom, but again, they each had some special meaning attached to them.

As I shared, each year our Christmas trees looked different than the previous ones, but it wasn't the actual physical stature which made the tree different. It was the diverse ornaments, the lights, the garland, and the tinsel that drooped from the branches which made them stand out. Up close, the ornaments were set apart from the others, but when we stood back and saw all the ornaments as one whole, it made our Christmas trees beautiful.

As I've thought about this, I'm reminded of my upbringing and the people my parents reached out to over the years. My parent's relationships weren't one-sided. With people from all walks of life - from different nationalities, various faiths, careers, educations, physical disabilities, social status, to their overall stage in life - my parents never turned people away because of something they lacked or something they were born into. They loved people just as they were. Each person had a meaningful story to share. Their story wasn't ordinary. It was unique and meaningful to my parents, and people felt important around them. It is this great truth of valuing people, of seeing them as a reflection of God's endless love for humans which helps me become more "whole" in how I view and care for others.

I never realized that our Christmas tree experiences would somehow foreshadow the relationships my parents had with so many people. Thank you Mom and Dad for showing me that Christmas was far more than gift-giving. It was about standing back and seeing the great beauty right before us.