Labor of Love

Every year during the Christmas season, I like for my Christmas tree to tell a story. Some years, the story is all about my four grandchildren. Some years, we can see the story of those we’ve lost in the ornaments they left behind. Other years wreak of themes from the 70’s, 80’s, 90’s, and 2000’s. As I look back on pictures from those years, my heart is warmed with memories of sweet, adoring times around Ol’ Tanenbaum.

This year will offer a much different memory. I looked forward to decorating my tree this year without the stress of deadlines or interruptions. It was just me in a big lonely house surrounded by boxes of ornaments, tinsel, and lights. As the carols played incessantly on the stereo, I opened the Christmas tree box and pulled out the three parts that come with an artificial tree. (I have long since done away with live trees – allergies you see). To my surprise, I had forgotten that last year my tree stand had broken.

“Oh well, I’ll get another tree stand next year,” I remembered saying. Did I? That would be a no. So, I scrambled to the nearest Lowe’s in the freezing rain to grab a tree stand specifically for artificial trees up to 8’ feet.

“I’m sorry, we are completely out,” the customer service rep said with a smile.

It’s to be expected that one store would be out of Christmas tree stands because after all, it was December 2nd. Refusing to get sidetracked, I hurried to the Lowe’s on the other side of town. Don’t ask me why I stuck with Lowe’s – habit I guess. To my chagrin, they too, were out of Christmas tree stands for artificial trees.

“You may want to try this one,” the sweet, but exhausted, customer service rep replied.

So, I took her up on the cheap red metal stand with the green legs and circular screws. By the time I had gotten home, it was too late and I was too tired to even begin my Christmas tree decorating so I went to bed looking forward to a better tomorrow. Tomorrow would be another cold, rainy day but perfect for decorating a tree. I pulled the cheap Christmas tree stand out and followed the instructions to a tee. The only problem was that the circular disc that was supposed to hold my tree was too big.

Frustrated, I gave up and called Home Depot. They had one artificial Christmas tree stand left; and an added bonus, it was a rotating stand! I respectfully asked them to set it aside and almost got a ticket racing to Home Depot. Finally, it was time for me to decorate my tree; but I am definitely not the mechanically inclined. The stand swayed, and creaked, and tipped several times before I finally got the tree standing. I pulled out my ornaments and lovingly began telling my Christmas tree story all dedicated to Christ’s nativity for which we celebrate Christmas.

Suddenly, my angel with the porcelain head flew to the floor in pristine fashion. The revolving tree stand had done its work. Refusing to be frustrated (by now, decorating the tree was an adventure), I lovingly began hanging my cherished LeBien glass ornaments. As I caressed my 2012 nativity globe, the tree limb I selected for it collapsed and my precious ornament shattered to the floor in a million pieces.

Decorating this tree had become a labor of love and loss. As I looked on the finished product, up above the angel’s head, I saw the nativity representing our Savior’s birth so long ago. Born to die was His mantra and all of the labor that had gone into my annual Christmas tree creation suddenly became insignificant amid His love for me.

But it’s leaning you say? What do you expect from a tree stand that rotates?!

Wishing you all the merriest of Christmases as we reflect on the Reason for the Season. Beth Banning

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