I thought I’d share a favorite story from my syndicated radio show, A Prairie Christmas.
When I was a kid I had an unusual perspective on Christmas trees, because our family sold them from our small farm.
Not many, to be sure, only about 75-100 per season—yet we had a loyal following of customers who would seek us out every year. I think they were attracted to our small farm, the chance to pull a sled between the trees, and maybe stop and pet the cow or sheep near the barn.
Once in a while we would get a new customer who was looking for the perfect tree.
They would arrive mid-afternoon and set out, methodically searching up and down each row until slowly but surely each tree was rejected. “Too tall. Too skinny. A little crooked on this side, see? There’s a gap over here.” Until finally in the dim of the early evening, they would drive off empty handed.
We kids would look at each other puzzled. Didn’t they know about the Christmas tree miracle?
You see, you may think that we got the very best of the best. But that never happened. You’ve heard of the cobbler’s children going barefoot? Well it is the Christmas tree farmer that has the sorriest tree.
We would take the worst of the lot for our tree, the Charlie Brown Christmas tree times 10. Barrel-shaped scotch pines with hail damage and double-runners, spindly, twisted balsam firs with a whole side missing.
Dad would wrestle the ungainly beast into the house and we would put on the decorations. Some were handmade; some purchased when we were babies; some purchased just that year; some fragile, some construction paper—all with a story and a memory. Then we would plug in the tree, step back and…
It was beautiful!
“The best one yet!” we would whisper. The beauty of the tree filled us with awe and seemed to demand hushed respect. Kids are wise that way. We recognized the transformation for what it was—a small, tangible proof of the power of love to make all things new and even beautiful.
Isn’t Christmas like that? We work and strive and clean and shop and spend, trying to make a perfect Christmas, only to find ourselves vaguely disappointed.
We forget the wisdom of children. Christmas isn’t a task you complete or a skill you learn. It is a gift you receive.