Remembering....The First Tree Was a Perfect Tree
I'm often amazed by what can bring a memory to the foreground of our thinking. I've read that smells can recall things from our past very quickly and I believe that sometimes just closing our eyes is all it takes to bring a memory from mothballs and cobwebs.
Lately I've been thinking about how people spend so much time discussing their Christmas trees and decorations. I heard someone tell recently about all the effort they had put into finding the, "perfect" tree. They went on and on about all of the places they had gone to look for one and the pros and cons of different varieties. On and on it went to the point that I thought I would surely keel from the topic of discussion.
I recall very clearly the first two Christmas trees in my life. The first was when I was six, I was in first grade and I remember Mom trying to sell the idea to Pop by saying, "there will be one in his classroom at school." There was too and it was a fresh one even, but I really don't remember any more about it other than there was one, but I remember that Mom talked Pop into it and there was a tree in the living room where we lived on Peanut's place. I can't describe it or tell where it came from, but I remember some of the ornaments on its branches and one particular comes to mind. I recall there where lights on it that were far too heavy for its branches, and I remember some glass ornaments on it too, maybe they were hand me downs from Grandma Sledge, she did have such things in her collection, but I remember the things that Mom made to decorate with more than any of them. And as I said, one in particular stands vivid in my mind.
The one I can see so clearly hanging on the tree was a creation of my mother's hand. It was made from a Christmas card cut to fit the bottom of a Banquet Pot Pie pan. It was a picture of the Virgin Mary, very youthful, herself too young to be a mother, let alone the mother of one who would buy our salvation. The image of the mother and child was attached to the botton of the tin and the edge was trimmed with red ric rac.
Surely Mom used red because it was what she had on hand or gleaned from the bottom of Grandma Sledge's box of sewing notions. I know that Mom hung on to things like pot pie tins and little boxes because they were, "too handy to throw away." And she was right. I doubt that she thought of red ric rac around the Christ child as a foreshadowing device of the blood that he would shed in the future. However, I can see God using that moment in the past for my present thinking. (He's like that you know.)
Even as a boy I found those images of the Holy Family on Christmas cards interesting and thought provoking. I liked the ones that had pictures of the City of David on them too. They are filed in my memory and are brought to mind when somone starts in on the perfect Christmas tree.
I've decided that the perfect Christmas tree is the one who sees over a healthy family, even though its trunk is bent. It is the one that is in the window of a warm house that shelters and protects the family, even if it is too hot and dry to keep a tree fresh. The perfect tree is one that stands where there is harmony and peace, even if it is a bare elm branch.
The first tree I remember from Christmas 1966 wasn't fancy, flocked or over decorated, but it was decorated with things that Mom made for a family she loved and cared about. It stood in a drafty house with a coal stove, a house that was termite ridden come spring, but all in all, that tree was pefect because it stood in a house filled with love. I think deep down, Dad surely didn't need a lot of, "selling" on the idea of a tree, he knew it meant a lot to my mother and he knew that it would be perfect.