This election will pass – then it’s Thanksgiving and Christmas!

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Today, in the middle of the ongoing contentiousness that seems to be dominating social media, I’d like to remind the world that no matter how things turn out November 8, election day will quickly be followed by Thanksgiving, and soon thereafter we get to enjoy the light and beauty of Christmas!

So – once again – I have reviewed and revised my Christmas classic, In My Heart I Carry A Star: stories for Advent.  After seven published titles, this book still remains one of my favorites. It’s all about getting ready for Christmas; and who couldn’t use a little help with that?

If you already have a copy, then please consider getting a few to give to friends and family as gifts. Also, with a study guide in the Appendix, In My Heart I Carry A Star makes the perfect Advent study for your church or a group of friends.

Here is one a story from the book. I hope you will enjoy the read… and then share – DEREK

Tannenbaum Flambé

(excerpt from the first week, In My Heart I Carry A Star)

I have said this to you, so that in me you may have peace. In the world you face persecution. But take courage; I have conquered the world!  – John 16:33 

IMG_4146Have you ever found yourself reclining in your favorite armchair, a cup of coffee poised on your lap, staring at the Christmas tree in the corner and kind of wondering? I mean really, let’s be honest, what exactly is it in the wacky world of interior decorating that makes an oversized dead shrub so compelling?

We talk about our commitment to save the forests, and spend extra money to bring home a “live” Christmas tree. But then we cut it off at the knees, strap it to the wall, plug it into a light socket, and electrocute the poor thing. After a while parts of the tree start to die and fall off all over the rug. By the second week of December any open flame within 50 feet is likely to result in Tanenbaum Flambé. Somebody help me understand!

Think about it. It’s a tree; what is it doing in the living room? And then we cover the unfortunate specimen with the most hodgepodge assortment of mismatched paper products, figurines, glass ornaments, party-favors, and angels. We top it off with tacky colored lights and hand-made strings of snack food. What’s that all about?

Yet somehow, standing there dressed in a kind of horticultural drag, our Christmas trees have become just about the most enduring symbol of the season for families all the way from London to New York to San Francisco.

A visual journey into family history, an archeological dig on a stick…

In our house the tree – or several trees depending on Rebekah’s decorating inclination – has become a visual journey into family history, an archeological dig on a stick, evolving over the years into an elaborate seasonal scrapbook pasted together as events and people pass through our lives. Each ornament has its own story to tell, from first-grade handkerchief angels, to the handcrafted ornament purchased in Appalachia when we were expecting our first child, to the sterling silver pine cone given by a generous friend who often shared our celebrations.

Our Christmas tree moves from everyday worldly images – such as trains, singing birds and snowy houses – up through drummer boys, Santas and nutcrackers – to a sacred host of stars, angels, and Nativity scenes toward the top. When the children were little I remember Andrew – proud of his growing but inaccurate vocabulary – loudly informing a guest that our tree had, “Sacred ornaments at the top and ‘sexual’ ones lower down!”

IMG_4132It is that meeting place of the sacred and the secular that makes the Christmas tree such a durable and endearing feature of our holiday homes. It is a place where even the least religious feel compelled to stick an angel on the apex, include a Nativity underneath, or simply place a star near the top…. (story excerpted from In My Heart I Carry a Star: stories for Advent, by Derek Maul).

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