But this year the tree hunters were met with a surprise. The lot from which they chose to buy had sold out. Its sister location across town had also disposed of all its inventory. Apparently the drought and the dangerous fire seasons had forced some tree growers to suspend operations or close altogether. The lack of growers made for a shortage of trees.
What to do?
The lot attendant pointed to a living Christmas tree still waiting a home. Living trees come with roots and are planted in pots designed to warrant hernia surgery after the holiday. They haven’t been groomed for decoration and may come with gangling limbs like a teenage boy whose arms haven’t caught up with his legs, and his torso lacks proportion.
This tree was no exception.
It had an extra long center trunk with a gap of about twelve inches between the nearest branch and the top. My first impression evoked memories of Charles Schultz and his memorable story of A Charlie Brown Christmas. In that special Charlie Brown buys the saddest, most unimpressive tree imaginable and attempts to beautify it. As his efforts fail and he is scorned by his friends, Charlie Brown learns the true meaning of Christmas.
His friend Linus quotes Luke 2:8-11: “ And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.”
So my tree hunters proceeded to decorate our humble little tree and attempt to make it beautiful. The end result was a good one—a little short perhaps, and a few gaps here and there, but I’m sure the baby Jesus would have found joy in knowing we’d remembered to celebrate His birth. After all, that event initiated God’s plan for all of us to find the path to heaven—we only have to believe.