It is December 15 and this is what my Christmas tree looks like. Hubby and I carried it into our house nine days ago and it has looked like this ever since. Not totally true. The angel was put on night before last. I’ve watered it each morning and each day it stares at me. Naked. It feels unloved. Uncared for. Paining my heart.
The other night we finally carried our decorations for it into the living room. That’s the gray container sitting next to it. A long-held tradition at our house has been to watch White Christmas while decorating the tree. Not having a video of it in our possession any longer, I searched on Dish Network or Amazon Video without success. Oh, it was there but I would have to rent it and I dislike renting a movie. Seems like a waste. So, I settled on The Hallmark Channel which is showing continuous Christmas movies. It would have to do.
First, I put the angel on top. This angel has graced our tree for nearly 30 years. I made it myself and she has sat atop our tree and watched over our family Christmas celebrations since our children were small. Usually I put her on last. This year, she was added first. Next, I pull out the first strand of lights, plug it in, and begin at the bottom. Is this where to begin? I have no idea. I don’t remember what I’ve done in the past. For years this was Hubby’s job, however, over the past few years it’s become mine. Not sure why. Our lights are the larger LED colored bulbs. Hubby likes those. I prefer small, twinkling white ones. We have the larger colored ones.
As I work along the branches, attaching the lights, it becomes a struggle to figure out where to go next. Do I go around the tree, do I go up and down among the branches. Why won’t these things stay clipped on the branch? After several minutes of struggling with it, I succeed, although not satisfied, with the first strand. Now to the get the second strand plugged into the first strand. I plug it in and see lots of extra cord with no lights and wonder what in the world do I do with all this unlit cord? Letting it just hang around, I begin to clip the first light into place and continue on. Do I go back towards the lights already in place? Do I keep going around? As I’m sitting on the floor with lights around my legs, grumbling as I go, fighting the tangling lights, with Hubby completely unaware as he is already engrossed in the Hallmark movie, I toss the strand down in frustration. I totally understand now why pre-lit artificial trees were invented! Forget it! I’ve never struggled so much putting lights on a tree. Tonight is NOT the night! I unplug the lights and head over to the sofa to watch the movie. Frustrated. Glaring at the big green unlit tree across the room.
Yesterday morning I again attempted to put lights on. I pulled off the one strand I had on it because I didn’t like how it was making the branch droop. Needles falling all over the floor. This time I decided to plug in the strand and go straight to the top and then work my way down. That’s how I’ve done it in the past. Truthfully, I’ve done it both ways over the years. This was still feeling like a struggle. Suddenly the door opens and our 2 1/2 year old grandson came excitedly running in with his mommy. Lights! He picks up the strand and I knew my tree decorating efforts would be over for another day. Truthfully I was relieved. This was not feeling right either.
This morning I snapped the photo you see. No decorations on my tree and Christmas is coming FAST! I begin to reflect on this. What is going on that this is such a challenge for me? Why do I have an undecorated tree in my living room for so long? Is there a life lesson in this for me? Is the Holy Spirit whispering something to me and I’m not “getting it”? Normally I love having my tree up and these are some of my most treasured times, early in the morning, dark house except for the lights on the Christmas tree, as I have my quiet time. No lights on my tree each morning just presses on my heart that I haven’t gotten prepared for Christmas.
Wait! That’s it! The undecorated tree is a symbol of my unprepared heart. Oh, Lord, forgive me. Prepare the way. One of the biggest truths of the Advent season. A time of preparation; of getting ready. The Kingdom of God is near. The Kingdom of God is where? In my heart? Is it?
I can purchase the gifts, I can put essential oils in my diffuser that smell like Christmas, I can plan to bake the cookies, I can visit area light displays, I can sing along with carols. However, if I don’t open my heart and let the Baby in, let the Holy Spirit prepare room for Him, I’m no different than the Innkeeper who slammed the door in Joseph’s face and said there was no room for them. No room for the baby to be born. No room.
Oh, Holy Spirit, come. Thank you for prompting me to prepare my heart for the Messiah. Help me to make room in my heart for this precious Baby.
Darrell Evans wrote a song that comes to my mind and is a beautiful way to get ready. I pray it blesses you as together we bow our heads, inviting the Holy Spirit in and to Prepare the Way.