A Lesson from My Christmas Tree

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Oskin Christmas Tree 2021

Have you ever stopped and thought about your Christmas Tree (if you have one) and why you decorate it the way you do? It’s probably one of those things you haven’t thought about lately. We all have a preference for how we decorate our Christmas Tree and once we ‘decide’ how we like them, we tend to stick to it, even year after year.

This year it was truly a struggle for me to decorate my tree. My Christmas Tree is very old. My husband and I have never had our own tree, we’ve always had hand-me-down trees from someone else (not always a bad thing). This one is at least 15 years old but most likely 18, when LED technology was just coming out.

Many of the branches are broken, it’s hard to fluff without portions of it coming apart in your hands. So much is broken in it that there are massive “holes” where there are no branches visible that no amount of fluffing can hide. Years ago I went and bought pine picks at the craft store to put in those holes to try and hide them, and boy did that help!

Katie's Favorite Angel Ornament
Katie’s Favorite Angel Ornament from the early 80’s

Up until several days ago, my tree went undecorated and unloved. I just couldn’t bear to do it. I just have a hard time with the tree. But every year I can’t bring myself to buy a new tree. There’s always something else that comes in front of the tree that’s more important. After all, we have a tree and many others don’t. My husband and I are ministers. My heart breaks over those who are homeless, don’t have the finances to pay for their utilities, put food on their table, lose everything to a fire, or have lost their loved ones. I. Am. So. Blessed. I just can’t bring myself to replace it because of the greed and excess that the season seems to bring upon us wave upon wave, year after year. Commercialism & consumerism just seems to grow. Besides, I think of the trees we had before this one that was in worse condition than this … and I’m immediately thankful and grateful. So … I can’t bring myself to replace it … yet. Buying a new tree for me and for my family is not a priority, and that’s perfectly okay.

Hallmark Ornament called "Rodney" featuring a Mouse in Rudolf's Christmas Tree
Hallmark Ornament called “Rodney” featuring a Mouse in Rudolf’s Christmas Tree

For a few years now I’ve been putting bows, ribbons, crystals, and all kinds of fanciness on my tree. Why? To hide its more tattered appearance. But this year, when I set out to decorate it, I did something I haven’t done in a few years. I got out my boxes of ornaments instead of all fanciness to hide the tatteredness. And a very strange thing happened…    On just this one tree, there are dozens of tokens of love and joy. All on just one tree. So many I have a hard time placing them on just one side!  And do you know what else? I had completely forgotten how much love and how many treasures were store up inside those boxes. WOW! How truly blessed am I?

On just this one tree, there are dozens of tokens of love and joy. All on just on tree.

My 2021 Christmas Tree

When we were children my Mom and Dad would get my brother and me one ornament a year for Christmas. After a while, my Grandparents got in on the act and many years we got 3 ornaments a year. Why?

A Treasured Hallmark Christmas Tree Ornament from 1984

When my parents were newlyweds, their first Christmas they had a tree, but nothing to put on it. So when they had children, they wanted to make sure that as their children went off on their own, they wouldn’t have a bare Christmas Tree.    As I unpacked my ornaments, memories of Grandparents (some no longer with me), Christmas with my cousins, simple quiet moments at home with Mom & Dad, ornaments from high school friends, all the moments came rushing back as I unpacked each and every ornament.

An Animal Cracker Ornament from Katie's Friend, Kate
An Animal Cracker Ornament from Katie’s Friend, Kate

And as I decorated my tattered tree, it no longer mattered that my tree is bruised and battered from years of love and service. The memories of family & friends and Christmas’ so long ago came rushing back. I didn’t intend to take an entire day decorating my tree, and yet I did. I did it because the memories of each of these ornaments were so precious, I couldn’t possibly let them go so quickly.    No matter how bad things might look, there’s always a bright spot, a highlight, and a beacon of hope. You might have to really reach for it, seek it, and even pause in the midst of a difficult moment, but believe me … it’s there if you only stop and pay attention.

Merry Christmas to One and All,


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