Every year my family and I pull on our rain boots, wrap scarves around our necks, and pull hats on our heads and set off together to find a Christmas tree. We live in the Pacific Northwest, where trees are grown in abundance for this purpose. There’s always a chill in the air and excitement, too, because somewhere among all those fir and noble trees at the lot near us is our Christmas tree. If only we can find it!
It’s almost like a game, Christmas tree hunting.
We all laugh as we weave our way in and around the trees, looking at each one to find the right color, size, shape, and scent. The dogs get into the game too, sniffing and running in circles to figure out where their people are going. Somewhere from another row we’ll hear a voice, “I found a good one!” and everyone else in the family will go scurrying through the trees to see the treasure. We walk around and around it, assessing its beauty and merits, marveling at it’s perfection.
Soon we find the one for us (and of course whoever finds it first stands near it proudly as if to claim the prize!). My husband and son lay down on the cold ground to cut the base of the tree. It usually is getting dark by that point and we are all shivering and dreaming of being back in our warm house.
Every year as we haul our tree to the car, we remember that we forgot to bring the step stool so we could better reach to get the tree up on top of the car, but that’s okay. We laugh. We’ve done this many times before. We fling the tree up over our heads and climb around in and out of doors and around limbs to tie that tree down as best we can.
We we grab a cup of cider for the road with frozen hands and blast the Christmas songs loud through the stereo speaker all the way home, quietly hoping and praying the tree doesn’t slip down any further to impact our view out the front window.
Tree hunting is a family tradition.
Until one year when it wasn’t. We were busy and had a lot going on that week. I had a perfectly lovely faux tree already set up in our house for a blog project. I had just completed and it was already decorated and ready to go. I had spent a lot of time getting that tree just right, and now I was tired.
I welcomed the idea of staying in from the cold that weekend and baking instead. It made sense to me, I felt ahead of the game!
As soon as I decided we’d just use the tree we had, my teen son walked through the room and said, “Mom, when are we going to get our tree?” I explained that we already had a tree and motioned toward the decorated one in our front room. I could see by the look on his face he was crushed, disappointed.
I didn’t realize how much it had meant to him.
So right then and there we grabbed our mittens and hats, leashed up the dogs and all piled into the car once again. We circled around the tree farm looking for the perfect one for us. I stepped back, watching my kids as they were laughing, wandering around the farm together just like every other year.
But, this year, I almost missed it because I had invested my energy in the wrong tree!
I felt so grateful that my son’s simple request to go tree hunting reminded me of what mattered most to us.
It wasn’t about the tree. It is about seeking and finding joy in what is sacred to us.
It’s easy, isn’t it? To become disconnected when we are just going through the motions of the holiday decorating, meal preparations, or even the motions of our faith?
We fall asleep when we are simply putting check marks in the boxes of our to do list without even letting it sink in what it all means. It takes a deliberate slowing down and refocusing, not just to do less things so we will have more time for other things we want to do, but to pay attention to what really matters to us.
True joy comes when we seek and treasure the real gift, the sacredness of what He did for us on that Holy night.
What do you find yourself distracted by right now, in this season? What could you set aside or refocus on in order to fully seek and treasure His gift this year?
by Melissa Michaels, The Inspired Room