Our yard is still more or less a strange land to us, full of things we didn’t plant and have hardly had time to notice. So it was not surprising, maybe, that I was surprised to look out of our living room window and notice a Christmas tree-sized evergreen growing too close to the fence. I noticed it because I was thinking about Christmas trees. We gave away the scrawny artificial tree that we’d used for the last many years. It didn’t make the cut for things coming with us to California. So I was wondering what we would do. And there was this Christmas tree, right outside the living room window, looking in at me.
“Here I am,” it seemed to be saying, “use me!” Well, I don’t suppose trees want to get cut down. I don’t really want to cut them down either. The world needs more trees, after all. But this one looks like it just grew by accident there, too close to the fence, and we might have to cut it down eventually anyway. So why not at Christmas time? Why not let it go out in a blaze of glory?
It’s a relief, because thinking of the Langley family going somewhere to buy a Christmas tree was not a happy thought. That’s only a happy thought for families who actually have happy holiday moments together, out buying Christmas trees and things. The Langley family has some happy holiday moments, but they have to be allowed to sneak up on us unaware and blossom unexpectedly. Saying something like, “Let’s all go pick out a Christmas tree!” is a sure way to bring on conflict and disharmony.
I could probably write a book, Managing the Holidays with a Complicated Family. But the bottom line would be “give up all expectations and embrace the inner peace of Christ,” with an emphasis on inner. Not a very cheerful book.
Clearly my pre-holiday anxieties are surfacing. I apologize. At least I can take comfort in the tree growing conveniently outside our windows, like a welcome gift from the land. We’ll plant something else there after we cut it down, something that we will pick out. Maybe an herb or some flowers. A gift back to the land, I suppose.