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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of “A Bird in the Hand is Worth Two in the Bush” (without using the actual phrase or literal example). (01/10/08)

TITLE: From Mania to a Manger
By Coleene VanTilburg


Decorating for Christmas was my time to shine. No sooner were the leftovers from Thanksgiving sealed up in their plastic containers and the silver put away, did those crates filled with extravagance for the holiday line the living room floor. After twenty-five years of marriage and twenty-three in this house, there was not much I had thrown away and every year my collection seemed to expand. I knew it was overkill, but when I would start putting things out, everything seemed significant. I am sure a few therapy sessions would explain my transference that all these “things” somehow enjoyed their release from the gloom of the attic and the cobwebs of the garage to have their month of importance, only to go back into hiding for eleven long months. The treasure included homemade Christmas décor from the early years and what the kids had made at school and such, multitudes of Christmas attired stuffed animals turned the house into a menagerie, candles, bows, holly and angels. Of course the garland and pinecones and who could not forget St. Nick and all his entourage. The Nativity, always significantly placed so no visitor would miss it. Usually no later then the tenth, the tree would arrive and the second round of decorating would begin. No ornament was left in the box. I collected Hallmark, but with some control, only purchased those that showed some relationship to our family and our years activities. When I was done, I was always amazed that everything just seemed to belong where it was placed; and it would stay until New Year’s Day.

November, 2003…the year of the fires; devastating the hillsides all around us and the adjoining counties. Ash darkened the sky thickly coating our cars. Thankful we did not live near the hills; the fires were other people’s tragedies. Until one morning, two days before Thanksgiving, other people’s tragedies did become ours as well. Up in smoke and melted were many plastic boxes and crates of Christmas, stored in the garage. (The garage, two bedrooms, partial living room and my roof were gone too.) I would later sift through the rubble to salvage a few items, in unbelief at what was barely recognizable.

Restoration was a long process which involved many moves and many tears. God showed me through his merciful patience, that my priorities and relationship with Him is what really needed to be restored. Four years later, we faced another Christmas where what is in our heart becomes so much more significant than what we may see. We had lost our oldest son earlier in the year after a battle with an illness he acquired when he was four years of age. He was twenty-six when he passed on. As the holidays approached, all that decorating now came down to a few salvaged items and very few replaced. None of it really seemed important except for one thing. How it survived…well, God only knows. A simple wooden cut out sleigh, glued together in a cub scout meeting, painted as an eight year old would do with holly and berries and a jute twine hanger; was this Christmas’s most precious possession. My son’s chunky-cheeked face in his scout uniform posed in front of a Christmas tree, framed with matting that was singed on one side, was glued to the front. The keepsake gift need only to stand alone next to my mother’s Bible opened to the 23rd Psalm. Christmas will always be simpler now, and what better way to truly worship and focus on the Lord’s gift to us, both the tangible and the spiritual promise of eternal life.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Yvonne Blake 01/18/08
So Sorry!
God has his ways of letting us see the important things in life, doesn't he?
Good writing.