In the olden days, we'd chop down a tree from a St. John tree farm. I loved the whole process.
By the time the kids got into high school, I was the only one who still cherished the tradition. So, now we have a pre-lit tree. Let me clarify. It's supposed to be pre-lit. But this year, only about a third of the lights came on when we plugged it in.
"Ho, ho, ho! Merry Christmas!" was not Randy's first thought. Some traditions never change. These days his only job is to help schlep the plastic tubs of decorations up from downstairs and get the tree set up. This year, he had to add lighting back into his holiday schedule. He added two more strings to the tree and we called it good.
It was not the only light fatality. The evergreen swag I use over the grandfather clock also didn't light. Another extra strand of lights fixed that problem.
I can't even find my miniature Christmas tree. Did it quit working last year and I tossed it? Did I think I'd remember to replace it before this holiday season? Well, if that's what I thought, I clearly was mistaken.
I think I need to actually read one of the books that I use to decorate my mantle, "Why Christmas Trees Aren't Perfect." It was given to the kids by our minister and dear friend, Cheryl, long ago.
No Christmas trees aren't perfect. Neither are Christmas decorations (unless they are on those fancy schmantzy HGTV shows).
But you know what? The Savior of the world was cradled in a smelly manger. So if my Christmas tree lights aren't placed with algebraic precision, I think it's going to be OK.
But Marie didn't ignore the true message of Christmas with her creations either. I have her quilted nativity scene on the piano.
How can we, in the midst of our culture's conspicuous consumption and demand for perfection, turn our focus on the Child who was born into poverty as a sign of hope and salvation for a broken world? While it may seem the world demands perfection, the Gospel message demands nothing from us. Rather, God invites us to gather around the manger just as we are: unfinished lists, burnt pies and all. No matter our imperfections, great or small, God invites us to peek into the manger and gaze at the real Christmas message: That Christ came for us all to be a beacon of hope for the hopeless and to bring peace.
Rev. Amy Slater,
Stafford UMC newsletter, Christmas 2012