Our Christmas tree this year (above) is not our usual. I’ve always had a live, tall (as in, as tall as will fit and still hopefully not scrape the ceiling) Christmas tree.
Growing up, my mom favored white pines. We always went to the local Christmas tree farm and chose and cut our own. Now, though, we don’t live within range of such a farm (Sigh.), so we’ve been reduced, while living in our present locale, to buying a pre-cut tree at a local store. Except for the past two years, when we didn’t have a tree at all. In 2006 we were traveling for well over a week, which is a situation that doesn’t lend itself to the feeding and nurture of a tree. In 2007, the reason was different but the result the same: No tree for us.
This year we faced a situation similar to 2007’s, but I was really sad at the prospect of another Christmas season without a tree in our home. We thought about buying an artificial tree, but we’re picky about how our tree looks, and we didn’t get around to looking at the right time. Then, two weeks ago, we were at the local craft store for various unrelated reasons when we browsed the fake tree section. They were on sale, 50 percent off. We didn’t see a single full-size tree we liked, but we did spot these small, skinny trees. This four-foot tree will not remain our primary tree in future years, but it beats no tree this year. Best of all, it fulfills my need to read by the light of the tree.
This month we’ve been reading God With Us: Rediscovering the Meaning of Christmas (2007). The book has daily meditations set in the context of Scripture, prayer, illuminating history, and fine art, for each day of Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany. Each week’s reflections are written by a different author: Richard John Neuhaus, Scott Cairns, Luci Shaw, Kathleen Norris, and Emilie Griffin. Histories of the feasts are written by Beth Bevis. It’s edited by Greg Pennoyer and Gregory Wolfe.
I was familiar with the work of several of the included authors (including Kathleen Norris), which helped clinch the purchase.
I’ve enjoyed so many aspects of this book thus far. In fact, my two main complaints are: First, the end of the ribbon bookmark wasn’t finished, so it has frayed. Second, the included prayers are in a script font, printed in a pale yellow ink, making them difficult to discern. I think God With Us has been a huge part of why I’ve had a more contemplative attitude this season, rather than merely rushing here and there, my mind filled with ever-accelerating worry about the ubiquitous to do list of the season.
Now if only I could find a book like this that lasted all year. (If you couldn’t tell, I highly recommend this book.)