MARY REICHARD, HOST: Today is Tuesday, December 29th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Mary Reichard.
NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher.
Well, for many of us, it’s time to take down the Christmas decor. But there’s a silver lining.
Here’s commentator Kim Henderson.
KIM HENDERSON, COMMENTATOR: We have drunk deeply of Christmas at our house, and now it is the dregs I must finish off. Yes, the dreaded Christmas tree dismantle.
It is a solo task, while the decorating of the thing was a joyful group activity with cider brewing in the background.
Oh, well. I am eager to be done with it, as well as all the other undoing of the season. Away with you, gift wrap scraps. Out of here, bow that keeps falling off the mailbox. Get thee behind me, sugar cookies.
Let me be clear that when I say Christmas tree, I’m talking about the real variety, the kind that was beautiful two weeks ago but by Dec. 26th had become a browning has-been, as used up and discarded as the gift tags scattered beneath it.
In our family, it’s always cedar or pine trees, and they’re always cut on our land. It’s tradition like that of which Tevye sings in “Fiddler on the Roof,” and my husband and I, we hold on to it. Fast.
Our children always dreamed of the bought kind of tree, those Fraser firs with full limbs and even needling that OTHER families buy. Ok, so our property’s pickings were especially slim one year and we meshed two scrawny cedars together. Does that make us weird or something?
(You don’t have to answer that.)
In such cases, tree décor is affected, too. The kids weren’t fans of my use of trailing tulle, but what can I say? You try to make a tree with its back side missing look good without some fluff and stuff. It isn’t easy.
And, yes, I admit the paper-mache star droops a bit (every year).
I know the strands of pearls are a bit too Victorian.
I realize we need more lights. (I’m waiting for the LED craze to plateau.)
So yes, it can be a battle, hanging on to traditions. And dismantling a real (now really dead) tree is also a battle. I have scrapes on my forearms to prove it. With the ornaments safely tucked away, I grab rubber gloves from the kitchen and wrestle with lights. In the end I win. The tree is hobbled. Naked. Listing in its stand like a boat out of ballast.
We stand there looking at each other, me and that tree. And I think to myself: Maybe now is a good time for the second chapter of Luke. Maybe now, with the trappings gone, in the quiet with bare and brown staring me down, I can finally appreciate Luke’s words.
The great joy for all people.
God’s favor resting on us.
The shepherds’ amazement.
Mary treasuring and pondering.
Simeon focused on consolation.
Anna bent on redemption.
Eventually we toss the tree into a burn pile. It’s a “leave no trace” effort, and with the swipe of a vacuum cleaner, all remaining holly jolly is removed from our home.
But not the joy.
While the world dismantles Christmas this week, we cling to its Christ.
I’m Kim Henderson.