It was a yearly journey that foreshadowed our future.
With much excitement, the Christmas tree had been assembled and now it was time to arrange the destination. My older sister carefully removed the treasured ornament from its box and moved to place it in a very strategic location on the tree – a little above the cardboard table on which the tree stood and not so high that neither of us could reach it. Throughout this procedure, I would gaze in awe at the tiny girl swinging in a silver star.
“Can I hold her a little?”
“No, Jenny. She goes right here.”
I would sigh and turn away, then begin setting up the small nativity set. It, of course, belonged directly beneath the swinging girl, at the base of the tree.
After these placements met with our satisfaction, we would move downstairs where the main characters of our story lay waiting. We had a week before Christmas and they still had to meet and build their homes.
With eager purpose we took out our Legos and dumped the contents onto the floor (we never were the kind of girls who liked to play “House” with dolls). Soon, my sister had her Lego, Billy, the instructions for his house, and the necessary Legos sitting in organized piles before her. I had my Lego, umm…temporarily named Tom – it changed every year – and a random assortment of Lego pieces.
Throughout that week, Billy and Tom built their houses on various geographical terrain, met and conversed with each other and various other people they would happen to meet. On Christmas morning, they would then decide that something was telling them to make a journey.
While the land outside our house was surrounded by flat wheat fields, the land inside became raging rivers, impossible mountains, wide and dangerous oceans, and dry deserts. For no other reason than a feeling they should go, Billy and Tom would leave their comfortable homes and follow the unknown call. They faced and triumphed over all the obstacles to arrive, finally, at the tree where a girl sat swinging in a silver star.
“Hello,” they said in deep, manly voices.
“Hello,” responded the girl sweetly.
“What are you doing up there?”
“What are you watching?”
“That baby. Do you see him there?”
The men looked, and sure enough, right there in front of them were cows, sheep, donkeys, a man and woman, and a little baby. They stared at the group for awhile and then turned back to the girl.
“Can we come up there with you?”
Billy and Tom carefully climbed the Christmas tree where they would spend the remainder of that Christmas morning – watching the little baby and listening to the Christmas Story.
Many years have passed since that story has been enacted. My sister and I have instead been living it out in our own lives. Following the call of the likewise now grown-up baby, we have left our comfortable home in the flatlands of the Midwest and traveled across rivers, mountains, and oceans. Not always sure why He has asked us to go to these places, we have paid heed to the urge, and gone. Between the two of us, we have now spent time traveling and/or living in ten countries outside of the U.S.
This year, as Christmas draws approaches, we make plans to spend it together again – around the Christmas tree in that small Midwestern town. We will journey across rivers, mountains, oceans, and deserts, coming together in one place to celebrate the birth of the One who continually guides us in ways that surpass the limits of our imagination.
The yearly make-believe journey of two small girls around a Christmas tree has become a lifelong following of the One who lay as a baby at the base of that tree.
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