ADVENT DAY 11, THE TREE: (Today’s column is the 11th in a series of posts using iconic seasonal symbols as writing prompts).
The “Christmas Tree” is a curious tradition. Especially in a home like ours, where our design mantra more typically leans toward, “Less is more.” I mean, look at our new kitchen; Simple lines, subway tile, sleek cabinetry, black countertops.
Then along comes Advent. We drag a tree into the house, or better yet two; we unpack boxes and boxes of loud, not even vaguely subtle, decorations, then we attach them to every branch, twig, and needle; we assemble literally hundreds of lights and stuff them into every available crevice; then we come back at it with scores of delicate glass icicles and various metallic shiny things; Rebekah even has a box full of crystal tear-drops, salvaged from an antique chandelier; one of our trees has around 20 tiny crystal pigs, with little wings no less.
Most of the decorations come with stories. The paper peace-cranes made when the children were little; the light-bulb Rudolph spray-painted at Advent Adventures; unique ornaments we can’t hang without thinking about the wonderful people who gave them; handkerchief angels from vacation Bible-school; the hand-made stained-glass bell from seminary days; the wispy angel found at an Appalachian Mountain craft fair when we were expecting our first child – but didn’t yet know it….
FREE-FOR-ALL: Each Christmas tree is a study in accessorizing excess; loud, gaudy, literally bristling with bling. Yet, turn on the lights and the effect is nothing less than magical.
It’s as if the Christmas Tree becomes a free-for-all, a decorating amnesty zone where every possible color combination, design risk, and imaginative home decor yearning is given voice without fear of veto. And the funny thing is that it works; it always works.
And that, fellow journeyers on the Advent path, is today’s devotional tie-in. God wants us to live faith out loud; God wants us to throw caution to the wind and jazz it up a little – more than a little; God wants us to engage life with the enthusiasm and lack of timidity that the Christmas tree represents, standing bright and luminous, “Here I am!” as if it has every right to make its own impossible to ignore contribution to the flavor of this season of light.
Clap your hands, all you peoples;
shout to God with loud songs of joy.
For the Lord, the Most High, is awesome! – Psalm 47
So don’t be afraid to celebrate! Christmas isn’t the time eschew the bling, and settle for subtlety!
Just remember it’s Jesus we’re celebrating, and that it’s the gift of life and light that those hundreds of lights represent. The tree is exciting, and loud, and overdone because that’s what salvation looks like, and that’s not something we can keep quiet about at all!
(here are the first 11 images from Advent, this time counting backwards).
Derek has published seven books in the past decade (you can find them at https://www.amazon.com/Derek-Maul/e/B001JS9WC4), and there's always something new in the works.
Before becoming a full-time writer, Derek taught public school in Florida for eighteen years, including cutting-edge work with autistic children. He holds bachelor's degrees in psychology and education from Stetson University and the University of West Florida.
Derek is active in teaching at his church: adult Sunday school, and a men's Bible study/spiritual formation group. He enjoys the outdoors, traveling, photography, reading, cooking, playing guitar, and golf.