by: Brent Wood
As the kids got older we found a new place to go - it offered wagon rides pulled by huge horses that took you out to the trees, free hot chocolate, and a Christmas shop where we let each kid pick out an ornament to buy.
When we moved to Waterford, our tree-cutting tradition went by the wayside. The kids were teens by then, and life was pretty hectic - so most years I would grab Luke and head out to the hardware store and pick out a tree. Very boring, but it worked. Until the needles fell off.
When the kids came home on break from college, they wanted to revive the Christmas Tree cutting tradition, so for the past several years we've tromped around a local tree farm looking for that special tree. That's why a week ago you could find four of us braving a rainstorm to pursue our quest for a tree. We got very wet, however, we had a great time - and once again found the perfect tree. (Mom has suggested that we look into buying an artificial Christmas tree, but she has been roundly booed!)
I love the family Christmas tree. Or more accurately I love decorating the family tree - putting up each ornament and remembering the story behind it.
We have the ornaments that my wife and I got for our first Christmas together. They came from the gas station; they were free with a fill up. We have several "baby's first Christmas" ornaments because our firstborn was a December baby. (We also have a "baby's 15th Christmas" ornament made by her sibling who was born in July who was evidently a little bitter about there were no baby ornaments for her.) We have ornaments the kids have made, the ornaments they picked out at the tree farm, and ornaments that came as gifts.
My favorite ornaments, though, are the ones given to our kids that commemorated something personal for each of them. There's the Santa on his snowboard ornament for the one who loved to snow board. There's the Charlie Brown and Snoopy ornament for the kid that loves Charlie Brown and her own dog. There's the red phone booth for the one that studied abroad in England. All kinds of ornaments; all kinds of stories.
Those ornaments really aren't decorations - they're celebrations of the good times in life. Our family has had plenty, and for that I'm grateful. But they are also celebrations of life itself. After all, isn't that what Christmas is all about?
And the Word became flesh, and made his dwelling among us.
Jesus became man, and in that act gave incredible dignity to the idea of being human. While he had to humble himself, it was still not beneath him. Life, human life, was - and is - a good thing. And Jesus' birth provided the exclamation point!
My guess is that you have some of these kinds of ornaments on your tree - ornaments that come with a story. Ornaments that are that to remind you in what may even be a tough Christmas season of this simple truth - life is good!