Pine Bluffs Post - Serving all of Eastern Laramie County since 1908

By Cynthia Shroyer
Editor, Pine Bluffs Post 

Christmas trees and faith of our very own

 


I have had a Christmas tree of my very own for a few years. It was a long time coming.

In the past someone else has been kind of in charge of the trees in my home.

From kindergarten to middle school, my family lived in a home with a family room (translate TV room, pool room, Atari room, etc.) and a living room where mom and dad could visit with their adult friends while my brother and I played or watched TV in the family room.

Having those two rooms meant we could have two Christmas trees. The family room had an aluminum one with one of these four-colored revolving lights shining on it. I remember blue glass orbs decorating it with a matching spire tree-topper. The presents under that tree were usually ones from aunts, uncles and grandparents.

In the living room, taking center stage was a live tree. It had all sorts of ornaments on it. All the ones my brother and I made, some my mom made as a hobby (we had clothes pin Rudolphs and Santas a couple years), some given to us, some purchased as a set. Garland and multicolored lights were interwoven in the branches. Tinsel bedecked the boughs reflecting the lights.

My brother and I shared tree-watering duties; carefully mixing warm sugar water to nourish this temporary visitor to our home.

The gifts under that tree arrived Christmas eve. We knew where those presents came from!

As we grew older the aluminum tree made an exit, but a live tree still filled a large corner of the living room. We hand picked those trees, heading out on mostly snowy days to a tree farm to look them over. We had to make sure there were enough needles, no brown spots, and that its height was just right for the room it would grace.

When I moved into my apartment in the basement of my parents home while in high school I had to have my own tree. I headed out and picked up someones slightly worn fake tree and hauled it to the basement. Then I went through mom’s ornament collection and picked some used lights and odds and ends to put on the tree. Wasn’t exactly mine, as it was essentially borrowed from other people.

When I moved overseas, we were so homesick we put that used plastic tree up on Halloween! I was only mildly concerned that I was going overboard until I found out a lot of families away from the States for the first time did the same thing!

Again, we had used ornaments, along with some my husband brought along. We picked up a few new things at the base exchange and made it ours. But it wasn’t mine.

As we had children our ornaments changed. Gone was the pretty glass, and in its place were salt dough wreaths with my boys photos in the center, reindeer made of the girls handprints, Rudolph made of a shoe print. I had bells with Polaroid photos of my babies in Sunday school. One year there was a bird’s nest found in the yard that the kids just knew had to go on the tree.

It be longs there, ya know!

As the kids aged they stopped making ornaments and we started accumulating purchased ones like those cute smores snowmen, one for each of us. The intent was that as we expanded the family when they had homes of their own, they could take a part of the nucleus with them.

When our family divided just days before Christmas, our tree came second-hand from my parents, who suddenly felt the need for a new one. We brought our family ornaments, vestiges of better times. That tree got damaged in storage, but my folks started vacationing after the holidays and didn’t want to bother putting up a tree. Why not just use theirs (that new one they had to have)? So, we did. Then we bought one, a table-top number that had to be duct-taped to the table to keep the cats from knocking it over. Smaller tree, less décor. Just as those apartments did not feel like home to us, those trees just couldn’t be considered ours.

When I moved to Wyoming right after a new year, I had packed my way through Christmas. We didn’t celebrate at our apartment that year, opting for my parents more organized house.

My first Christmas, here my youngest came to stay and she bought a tree. It was hers, all four-feet of its gleaming white, pre-lite awesomeness. We dug out the decorations down now from BOXES to a few small containers. Some of our treasures had not endured the ravages of time, moves, flooded basements, and angered outbursts.

She took that tree with her when she moved out on her own, along with her few ornaments.

So, I went looking for one of my own. Mine. I balanced the cost of a live one versus an artificial one. I decided on fake. Then came the decision of whether to buy lights or get a pre-lit tree. I found beautiful pearl lights and many-sized blue bulbs to go with my few Precious Moments ornaments that had survived nine moves and four children.

I was so happy with my tree. The lights were so pretty! The ornaments all balanced. It was mine. I had asked opinions on my decisions, but ultimately those decisions and the tree were mine.

I still have that tree. It is still in storage, waiting for my visit to retrieve it and put it in a place of honor. It’s kind of odd that it isn’t up. Usually that work is accomplished while the turkey is cooking on Thanksgiving.

At any rate God has used that tree. I have been slammed on multiple fronts with the same message regarding my spiritual life. It just isn’t quite right. It is failing. It falls short. It isn’t enough. Then I had to ask is it mine?

I want to be like my friends Barb, Tami, Janice, Ana and Lynn. They are determined to be women of God regardless of their situation. I can emulate them. I can be a cookie-cutter Christian, a spiritual gingerbread man perfectly formed and decorated, maybe beautifully iced to cover up burned spots.

Or I can walk alongside them in this faith marathon, tending to each other’s blisters, giving each other refreshing water, offering encouragement as we climb the hills and stumble in the valleys. I cannot have their faith; I must have one of my own.

We all have to have our own faith. Same Gospel. Same Savior. But there are individual journeys that lead to our arrival. We can share our faith, like my parents, then my husband and children shared our trees. But eventually we all have to own our faith. Our children must be shown where the path is and taught how to walk on it, but it is up to them to get on the path and to walk it.

That’s a tough thing for a parent to do. It’s as difficult as having your own faith and not living life as a spiritual fraud.

I must grow my own spiritual tree, a pine with soft wood that can be carved into whatever shape the Carpenter desires. I need to drive my roots down deep so that I don’t topple over when the hurricane force winds blow. As a tree cannot survive using another tree’s roots, so we cannot survive spiritually trying to absorb the faith from someone else’s life.

Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. (Colossians 2:6 and 7)

 

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