As I suspected, there has been some demand for “The Happy Christmas Tree Farm” story. So here it is. The tale is a classic, from way back when our children were little and we lived in Pensacola. This is an excerpt, taken from one of my more popular books – In My Heart I Carry A Star – and shared here with the permission of the publisher:
One Christmas, when the children were very young, we answered an ad from the Happy Christmas Tree Farm. The trip there was a nightmare of whining, complaining, and fighting. The experience cutting the tree was worse. Then the drive back involved no less than three incidents of “We’re pulling over to the side of the road and we’re not going anywhere until you stop fighting.” We skipped our dinner treat, the tree fell off the roof twice, and by the time we made it home I was ready to use the thing for firewood.
“That’s the last time we go anywhere to cut down our own tree,” Rebekah said. I wholeheartedly agreed.
The next year I intercepted the Happy Christmas Tree Farm flyer and dropped it in the trash. I must not have buried it deep enough, because the children brought it with them to supper that night.
“You lost our invitation,” Andrew said with a look of disbelief mixed with anticipation all over his nine-year-old face. Rebekah and I did a double-take.
“I thought we’d support the Boy Scouts this year and pick up a tree at the ball field,” I offered. “No, Daddy, we can’t do that,” Naomi chimed in. Andrew nodded in agreement.
Little matter we’d only ever gone to the “happy” place once, and little matter the experience was an unqualified disaster. The children sealed our fate with a time-honored appeal. “But we ALWAYS go to the Happy Christmas Tree Farm,” they said in unison. “It’s our family tradition!“
Tradition is, largely, a decision of the heart. Every year we all have a thousand choices in front of us and we sort through to decide what is important. The advertising pulls us one way, our family history tells part of the story, our children certainly weigh in. But in the end what sticks and eventually acquires the gravitas of real tradition all comes down to choice.
Is our Christmas tradition one that keeps Jesus at the center, along with family worship and faith in God guiding what is important enough for the focus of our attention and our resources?
If we are iffy on that, then all we have to do is to make a decision and then put our commitment into practice. Yes, tradition is a decision of the heart – but more accurately a series of decisions that reflect what lives at the core of our being.
Moving forward from this moment the love of Jesus and the warmth of an authentic faith community can be our tradition for Christmas. It really is a choice. If it helps, remember that God has already chosen us, chosen me, chosen you.
In Advent Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love – DEREK
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.