A number of years ago I shared a house with my sister Rose, her husband Alfred and their kids. Like any household we had our share of ups and occasional downs. One particular year, for a number of reasons, we went through a rough stretch in terms of funds. With Christmas approaching we knew that this year would be very lean.
For us, Christmas was not about presents. Christmas was about celebrating the birth of Christ. It wasn’t necessary to have a tree and decorations. We could forego the presents and the trappings of the season. What about the kids?
The younger kids would be okay. What about my older nephew, Bob? My sister was worried he may not understand. How would he feel if he didn’t get any presents? We would not be able to get a Christmas tree this year. She knew she would have to tell him. I didn’t envy her.
Christmas Eve arrived and there was no tree. At my job there was a holiday lunch. The office manager announced she would recognize the top three employees for the year. Surprise! My name was announced second! As part of the recognition I received, amongst other things, a check for $100.00. I knew exactly what I was going to do.
I cashed the check and went home. Bob was there. I told him that I had a surprise and we had work to do! We were going to get a tree! I explained to him we still couldn’t splurge because I also wanted to be able to buy groceries for a nice meal plus a present or two. He understood.
We jumped in the car and made our way to a tree lot. Since it was late in the season we thought there might be slim pickings. The man at the lot asked us if we wanted a large tree? I said I didn’t know if we had that much money. He laughed and said that it was the day before Christmas, This was the last day for the tree lot. We could have a 7 foot tree for $10. Really? That’s all? Yes, that’s all – did we want two trees? Bob’s eyes lit up, but I said one large tree would be great.
When we got home my sister had a happy but puzzled look on her face. I told her what happened as we brought the tree inside. The decorations were still in the garage. Before heading out for a family gathering we spent Christmas Eve decorating the tree.
There weren’t many presents that year but it didn’t matter. The house and our spirits were brighter. Yes, times were lean, but there was still much to celebrate.
Christmas is about the recognition that a miracle changed the world. For us, our tree was also a reminder that in spite of some tough times it was good to celebrate what we did have. We had a happy household and we had each other.