My husband flung open the front door and yelled overtop of the Christmas music playing, “I’m home!” Sitting on a stool next to the tree, I lifted my head. I can imagine my look was a mix of angst and joy. For more than one hour I was the only thing holding up the 7 ½-foot-tall tree full of family ornaments.
The "2017 Christmas tree debacle" started with a strand of lights being out. Unlike those who actually plan tree trimming, we put on the lights and then tested. Apparently, that is the wrong approach. So, with one strand not working, my husband ventured out to purchase a replacement.
With much of the lights shining brightly, I figured it couldn’t hurt to start hanging ornaments — the porcelain pink booties purchased to commemorate my first daughter’s birth, glass angels for my girls from their grandmother, handmade dough wreaths from my great grandmother. And the ornaments kept coming.
I stood back and looked at the tree. It was leaning, a little, not too much, so I continued placing each one on individual branches. Then I heard it. “Snap!” Immediately, the tree landed on my shoulder.
I pushed through the limbs and grabbed the middle before it could tumble down and break all our most treasured Christmas memories. Little did I realize, my arm would remain outstretched, hand firmly grasping the metal, waiting for any hint of my husband to open that door.
To be fair to the tree, it was a 30-year-old artificial tree. The kind where you put each branch in, and definitely not pre-lit. It was my mother’s. When she passed away, my siblings decided I would be the keeper of the Christmas tree. And I fulfilled my duties for the past 14 years, but at that moment, I went above and beyond.
When my husband finally realized my dilemma, he ran over and looked at the tree’s base. One of the plastic legs holding it up broke. He decided wood blocks would shore up the one side. It worked. After about two hours, I finally let go. Tree saved. Arm stiff.
Perhaps this year, you have felt a little like me holding up that tree. Exhausted.
Around your farm operation you may have dealt with drought, lack of forage, low commodity prices, wet harvest conditions or family loss. It is not easy trying to hold everything together when it all seems to be coming down around you. Still you press on. Don’t lose heart. Draw strength from your family, friends and faith. Help is just an open door or belly laugh away.
You see, after all the commotion of our tree, once the decorations were hung and family gathered around, we decided to light up the star on top as a symbol of hope. We plugged it in.
Nothing. Nada. Zilch. Our entire family laughed.
We knew it was the last year for my mom’s Christmas tree to stand in the corner. It was just one more earthly remnant of her now gone. Still, we found joy in the circumstance and each other. For we know that there is only one reason we gather at Christmas and that is to celebrate the one who gives eternal life.
So, this year, I am searching for a new tree for our home. It will have the same ornaments and perhaps a few new ones. Our hope is it will stand for generations.