The year of the Perfect Christmas TreeFor your consideration……

I woke up very early this morning. I took this picture and if you look at the top you can see that dawn is barely breaking. I kept thinking I should try to go back to sleep but finally gave up and decided to make better use of my time. After all, it isn’t like I don’t have anything to do. So like every morning, I go into meditation, get quiet and ultimately receive our message. This ritual runs the gamut from slow to fast and everything in between. I just never know.

This morning I quickly hear Twas The Night Before ChristmasI immediately think “Oh, do I have to go find the story for the message?”

“No.” I hear. “That’s not the story you read Christmas Eve. What is your story?”

“Mine is The Year Of The Perfect Christmas Tree.”

I hear “Yes, your story is about commitments and being limitless.” So today’s message comes from The Year Of The Perfect Christmas Tree.

I came out of meditation and start to think. I know the story but it would be great to have the book. My daughter, Alex, and I have read this story every Christmas Eve since we lived in Poland and she was 5. I wonder where it is. As fast as I think that, I am reminded. The last time Alex was home for Christmas was 2 years ago. When she asked, “Aren’t we going to read The Year Of The Perfect Christmas Tree?  You said the same thing then and she said, “I do.” Remember, she rushed up the stairs and was back down in just a minute. The book has to be readily available in her room. So up I go and sure enough. Laying right on her shelf is the book.

The story takes place in the Appalachian Mountains. People do not have much but they are steadfast in their traditions and community. Each year a selected family is chosen to provide the “perfect Christmas tree.” The tree is brought to the church for the Christmas Eve program. The daughter of the family gets to be the Christmas Angel. The family knows in advance that they are the chosen family.

In this story Ruthie and her dad set off in the spring in search of the tree they will cut in the winter. Ruthie’s dad explains that they will choose a balsam because it grows high in the rocky craigs where “only a venturesome man may go. It grows up high, near to heaven.” Finally they find the perfect balsam growing on the side of a high cliff on Grandfather’s Mountain. They tie a red ribbon from Ruthie’s hair to mark it.

When summer came Ruthie’s dad was called to the “big war.” Times were tough because her dad was not there to cut timber but Ruthie’s mom was resourceful. While they no longer had coffee or sugar or money for new clothes, she lowered Ruthie’s hems on her dresses, embroidered over holes and used the vegetables they had grown in the garden. They receive word that the war is over and Dad will be home for Christmas. But as the days tick off, he still is not home. The day before Christmas Eve the preacher comes to their house and says that someone else has volunteered to provide the Christmas Tree for this year. Ruthie’s mom politely declines saying that Tom already has one picked out. The preacher leaves worried.

Late that night Ruthie’s mom woke her. They tied their horse, Old Piedy, to the sled and went off into the dark searching for the tree. Ruthie was afraid but her mom started singing Christmas carols and the fear disappeared. They searched through the night until Ruthie told her mom what her father had said about the balsam growing on the “rocky craigs up near heaven.” Her mom knew just where to go. Together they cut down the tree and set it on the church steps right before dawn. (like in my picture)

Ruthie’s mom was not done though. After she put Ruthie to bed, not having any money for a dress for Ruthie to be the Christmas angel, she cut up her wedding dress. She made a beautiful dress with angel sleeves and a matching one for a doll she made out of the nylons Tom had sent her.

The Christmas program goes perfectly. Ruthie is the perfect angel and thrilled to get the doll that looks just like her. When they leave the church, her dad, Tom, is waiting outside. A perfect ending to a perfect story.

I love this story because during the toughest of times, there is no whining. This story is about people who love their God and know, like they know, like they know that he loves them. Their word is their bond. They fulfill their commitments. The preacher showing up at the door indicated doubt that Ruthie’s family would be able to deliver a tree without Tom, a man, at home. But Ruthie’s mom had no doubt. Their family had made a commitment and they would fulfill it….not begrudgingly….lovingly. She did not set out in the middle of the night and cut down just any old tree. She put in the work and found the perfect one. As a team, her and Ruthie found the one that Tom had chosen.

Ruthie’s mom never saw herself as a victim. She never considered herself as limited. She had something she must do and believed that she could and would do it.

God has given us unlimited gifts, tools. It is up to us to commit to use them. Believe!

That is the HOPE. And so it is.

Bit by bit, piece by piece, HOPE by HOPE action steps anyone can take…..

-Meditate/pray….ask….”What is my next step for my highest good and the highest good of all?”

-Drink lots of water.

-Get outdoors and take in at least 10 deep breaths.

-Believe in your limitless gifts.

What made me smile yesterday…..

-A warm winter day.

-Errands run efficiently. Everyone was in a great mood.

-Bruce and I ran some more errands together. That is always a hoot. There is not enough room or time to explain.

-Alex is in Dubai and we got to SKYPE with her.

-Shannon, the grandkids and friends all went to Detroit for a fun Christmas outing.

Love, Blessings and Gratitude,

Rev. Chris



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