November 30, 2010

O Christmas tree, O Christmas Tree...

Hear what the LORD says to you, people of Israel. This is what the LORD says: “Do not learn the ways of the nations or be terrified by signs in the heavens, though the nations are terrified by them. For the practices of the peoples are worthless; they cut a tree out of the forest, and a craftsman shapes it with his chisel. They adorn it with silver and gold; they fasten it with hammer and nails so it will not totter. (Jeremiah 10:1-4)

O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree, of all the trees most lovely...

As a child, I remember hearing a sermon delivered by Brother Paul Crankypants (not his real name). He used the above verse to tell all who would listen that having a Christmas tree in their homes was a form of pagan worship. After all, as the passage states, we cut down the tree, shape it, decorate it with silver and gold, and fasten it to the floor for stability. We put presents underneath ye old tree so that if anyone wants to grab their goodies, they have to "bow" before this idol in order to get them.

There is a greek word to describe this line of thought: baloney! This passage is talking about Asherah poles outside pagan temples, not Christmas trees.

Although we enjoy our Christmas tree, we don't worship it. But I must tell you that there are some who come pretty close. You see, our family has made an expedition every year, for the past 20 years, to a Christmas tree farm. We would drink their hot chocolate, say howdy to some jolly old fat guy with a white beard, maybe pet a cow someone dressed up like Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, and then would deliberate over a hundred acres of trees that all looked alike in order to find "the perfect one."

With a bow saw (because who would let an Average Joe have an axe?), I would cut the tree down, flag down the guy with the four wheeler, tie it to the bumper and let him drag it back to the pay know, just like our forefathers did. Be that as it may, even though it wasn't a Norman Rockwell moment, it was still our "moment" and we cherished it.

However, this year, tragedy has struck. My Children, Kate and Dupli-Kate (not their real names), decided that a nice artificial pre-lit tree would be better for all concerned...except their mom, Mel Griswold (not her real name), who is heartbroken that the tradition of mass murdering defenseless blue spruces has ended. She protested vehemently, but we finally got her to give in after two boxes of Kleenex and the promise of a really special decorating party where we would all wear Santa hats, drink spiced tea, and watch "The Waltons Homecoming."

So I digress...after some shopping, Mrs. Griswold did find a tree that is life-like and beautiful and it appeared that we were all very happy...until this past Sunday.

As my son "Dupli-Kate" tells it, he and his mother were driving home and she spotted an SUV with a murdered tree strapped to the top. His story goes on that she at first pointed it out, declaring its beauty, attempting to wax nostalgic about bygone days of yore. The next thing he knows, her lip is quivering and the water works start. He then does the only thing he can think to do. He says, "Don't cry mom. When we get home, we'll strap our new (very expensive) artificial tree to the top of the car and drive it around the neighborhood. It'll be like old times."

Just so you know, Average Joe made sure that cooler heads prevailed and the tree was not paraded throughout the neighborhood as has been suggested.

I guess I'm sharing all of this to encourage families to create their own traditions for the holidays. Keep Christ in Christmas, but never forget that He is the creator of joy, love, charity, and mercy. And especially, don't let Scrooges like Brother Paul Crankypants steal your joy!

Instead of debating the accuracy of the birth of the Savior, just get excited about the fact that He was born...born of a virgin...made in the likeness of men...tempted in all things like us, yet without sin. Get stoked over the fact that GOD CAME NEAR because He would rather step down out of heaven, than stay there and lose us forever.

At a time when the word "Christ"-mas is on the lips of mankind, most of whom may not know him, realize that this is your golden opportunity to carry out your calling! Show these people Jesus in the way you love Him, them, and each other. And if sharing silly stories and inviting others into your family traditions help them see a Kind and Benevolent be it!

'tis the season to be jolly...

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