Decorating the Christmas Tree

A family holiday tradition and a moment of grace come together.

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Posted in , Dec 7, 2015

A Christmas star leads to a moment of family grace while decorating the Christmas tree.

It’s a family night. We’re all here. Five sons. My husband, Lonny. And there’s sweet joy when my parents knock on the door. It’s the night we’ll decorate our tree. Bing Crosby and Ella Fitzgerald are on the CD player. Familiar holiday totes, holding ornaments and decorations and memories rich as gems, are on the center of our worn, wool rug. Two stock pots of soup bubble on the stove and bread is about to come out of the oven.

We cut the tree earlier, a short-needle pine. It’s in the stand, waiting.

Tonight is tradition–as good as it gets.

The lights are a fiasco, but that’s part of the tradition too. My dad and two young grandsons work them out of a dark tangle on the floor. The bigger boys begin to drape the wooden cranberry-colored beads over the stout tree’s branches, and our youngest son, Isaiah, 8, wants to put the star on top.

Decorating the Christmas tree, an older brother lifts his younger brother.​“Can I do it this year?” he asks, toothless grin grand over his face. “I think it’s my turn.”

I nod and Isaiah takes the star in hand and big brother Logan, 23, lifts him high. He reaches and stretches and smiles and the crown of the tree is in place. For the next two hours, we thread skinny, shiny hooks onto delicate glass bulbs and baubles, angels and glass birds. And it occurs to me, in all this noise, this wonderful family commotion, this celebration and togetherness and tenderness and joy, that we dress this tree because we were stripped down.

Stripped of sin. Stripped of hopelessness. Stripped of self-destruction. Stripped of death.

So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1, NLT)

It’s the pulse of the believer. It’s the heart of Christmas. I’ve known this my whole life, Jesus’ life-giving gift on the cross, but standing here, rich with the blessing of this moment, it moves me in a new and different way.

Thank you, Jesus, for what you’ve done.

“What do you think, Mom?” Isaiah asks. He’s on the ground again, looking upward, standing by Logan. Grant, Gabriel, and Samuel hang ornaments and talk back-and-forth with my parents as they watch from wingchairs. Lonny’s arm loops around my waist because we’ve been married a long time, and he sees that I’m close to tears.

“What do I think, Isaiah?” I ask.

He looks to me.

“Precious,” I say. And I mean it. From the center of my soul.

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