My baby started kindergarten in September that year; my mother passed away in October. It seemed life was shifting, changing, and adjusting in a way that meant small things became important – more valuable.
Christmas would be obviously tight from a financial point of view. My husband was earning his PhD while also teaching at the local university to support our family. I held down the fort with our four kids and cleaned houses on the side to make ends meet. Our children attended a private Christian school, so there was no such thing as “extra” cash.
The holiday season started with a decision to cut a Christmas tree to save money. We talked with our neighbor, Richard, about his own tradition of cutting a wild tree from his woods.
“Do you think we could find a tree out there this year for us? Are there any coming along that would be the right size?”
It was a silly question, since Richard’s forest spanned many acres. The real question was, How will we ever find the right tree? “Sure! There’s one out there just for you!” He smiled with his characteristically optimistic grin. We were convinced he was right.
We earmarked the Saturday after Thanksgiving as the day to hunt for our perfect tree, and it dawned crisp and cold. The six of us dressed in our oldest, most worn coats and boots, knowing we were headed for rough terrain.
Our spirits were high as we skirted thorny raspberry patches and climbed over fallen logs, tromping through the dry, winding creek bed and up and down ravines.
“Where is it?” our youngest daughter asked, stopping suddenly in her tracks. “Where is our tree?” Thirty minutes into the search, she was ready for the hunt to be over.
Her siblings chimed in with an answer. “It’s just…over that hill! Let’s go!”
There weren’t lots of evergreens in this forest – just a few scraggly, native junipers here and there. Most of them were too tall or too short or too fat. But, the kids were right. Just over “that hill” they found their prize.
“Look! How about it, Dad? It’s perfect! Can we cut it down…..pleeeeeease?”
The tree seemed ugly to me, hardly lush and full like the trees at the Christmas tree lot.
“Yay, it’s our tree! Our very own tree…cut it Dad!”
I can still replay the moment in my mind. Four little dancing, hopping bodies hovered around the ragged little tree. The kids’ frosty breath exploded like puffs of smoke with each delighted squeal. The saw made swishing sounds, back and forth, back and forth, as it severed the trunk.
In the pause preceding the final crash to the ground we all held our breath. And then…the tree fell, and I found myself rushing forward to touch it, stroke its thin green branches, and carry it home.
Our special tree was special because it was sought out - and chosen. Yes, it traded its life in the forest for a season of glory in our living room. And yet there was something about that tree that became bigger than life. Maybe it is because today, two decades later, its sacrifice continues to speak to my heart – to remind me of the precious Savior who came quietly, humbly, to give His life so that mine could be changed forever.
Oh Beth, I love this story. My eyes began to tingle when you wrote how you rushed to catch the tree, discribing your feelings. And the end is so precious, about Jesus giving His life for us. Happy Thanksgiving friend! Love in Him, Jacque