Christmas time is here again. I think I have finally started to feel the Christmas spirit. It took a while this year. We went and saw the lights at the temple…did some shopping….put up our tree….nothing really worked for me. It wasn’t until tonight when the kids and I spent our Family Night making cookies for our neighbors and listening to Christmas music that I started to feel that hint of a warm glow ignite in my cold dark heart. Nothing works like music and loads of sugar to bring Christmas home.
We put our Christmas tree up two weeks ago. It was a bit early for me, but the kids wanted to do it so we did. We opted for a live one because that was the winning vote. Last year, I really wanted a live tree and the kids really didn’t care. So this year I was all prepared to pull our sorry looking plastic tree out of storage and plug it in. At the last minute the kids started begging for a real tree so I robbed the bank and drove them to the tree lot. Mae was with us so it was a party. She always brings fun with her. I let the kids pick the tree and help put it on top of the car. When we got home, I let Mae and Ethan set it up in the stand. They were so proud of themselves, it was pretty awesome. We just let it sit there naked for a few days. I put a pretty box under the tree with the ornaments and told the kids that this year, we were going to decorate the tree a different way. I put the lights on, but they were to add an ornament each time they did a good deed. They could decide when they had done a good deed. They didn’t have to ask me for permission. The ornaments started to fill the tree slowly but surely. It was kind of a neat thing!
Every day, I checked the water in the tree stand to make sure it was getting enough to drink. Like I said earlier….we got the tree a bit early for my taste, and I didn’t want it to dry out before Christmas. When we had been at the tree lot, I noticed that the trees were all sitting in big containers of water so, when our tree didn’t seem to drink much water, I figured it was because it wasn’t overly thirsty. After about five days of checking the water and not needing to add any, I started to kind of wonder…..maybe there was something wrong with our tree. At seven days, I called my dad. He suggested we pull the tree out of the stand and drill some holes in it so it could get water. Of course, I “let” him come over and ‘help’ me with that. Note: this very same day, my little neice had come over and finished decorating the tree. It was looking pretty spectacular by now. When dad got there and checked the tree….he informed me that the bottom of my tree was about an inch above the water level. I was shocked! Figures, the tree decided to take a big drink right before we pulled it out and made a big mess. But no, the problem was that the tree had not had the bottom branches trimmed off so it couldn’t reach the water. It had never had a chance!
Dad and I cut some branches off and eased the tree down into the water. I imagined I heard slurping sounds the rest of the day as the tree made up for lost time and water. I had a church party at my house the next evening and the tree smelled amazing for all my guests. It was great! I figured we were good to go!
Fast forward to the following Sunday, five days later. I went to check the water level in the tree and noticed that not only had the water not gone down, but the branches were hanging low and looking very defeated. The tree was dead. It was so dry and brittle….I couldn’t even turn on the lights without fear of sudden flames. I was so sad! The tree had been so beautiful and it was decorated better than any tree I think we have ever had.
With a heavy heart, the kids and I spent part of our evening taking the decorations off our once life tree and putting them on our stupid looking plastic tree. The real tree is now out back, awaiting the fire pit, and our Christmas lights are twinkling happily amid bottle brushes painted green. Do I sound bitter? sorry….I hate fake trees. Especially ones I got on a super sale after Christmas, that even has built in lights. It just looks fake.
I was thinking about these two trees yesterday while I was at church. I likened the trees to different types of people. There are some that look so beautiful and they just seem to draw people to them. We look at their outside appearance and think they are perfect. What we don’t see is that they don’t have any water. They don’t have what it takes to last and keep themselves green and alive. They lack faith and testimony and inner peace. Then there are the plastic trees…the ones that may not be as pretty. They may not have a pretty smell or be shaped perfectly. They may have some awkward branches and even wide open spaces where their trunk shows…but we can count on them because they know exactly what and who they are. They aren’t pretending to be anything other than what they are. They will last, year after year.
I don’t know if it is a perfect analogy, but it meant something to me as I was pondering. I’m sure the a different analogy could be made comparing live and artificial trees, and the live ones would win out, but for now….I think I am going to be happy with my fake tree. It is pretty, it is reliable, it isn’t going to dry out, and …most likely….it won’t burn my house down if I leave it on over night…….cuz I said so.