Merry Christmas, from The Seegers! Last year we started a new (albeit popular) tradition of cutting down our own Christmas tree. We had been completely content with our $15-$20 pre-cut trees we'd get from a store nearby… why the change of heart? The decision to cut our own emerged after seeing our previous years’ Christmas trees remain green - even after drying up after an entire summer outside. We decided if we wanted a tree painted green we might as well get an artificial tree. This is how the “tradition" of cutting our own Christmas tree began. Can it be a tradition after only 2 years? Why not!?
We found a local tree farm in Ripon, Wisconsin, called Fraser Tree Farm. It’s quiet, quaint, and relaxing as you hike through God’s beautiful creation. Horse and wagon rides are available for you and a bon fire, hot cider and cookies await you after your fingers have turned numb and you have found the “perfect" tree for your family.
But our tradition this year was definitely less than picture-perfect. Our potty-training one and a half year old’s nap was cut short on the way to the farm. This typically adventurous little explorer instead was refusing to walk on her own and crying incessantly whenever we put her down… to top it all off she was saying “potty” every few minutes just so we would leave. We at least managed to get a few smiles here and there as she snuggled into mommy and daddy’s arms. The cider and treats at the end also helped… if only I would have started with those! But overall, she couldn't have cared less about the trees and the experience altogether.
After editing all these photos and laughing a little bit about how my planned outing ended up turning out, I think about our Savior’s story. Let’s look back to Bethlehem. "While they [Mary and Joseph] were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them" (Luke 2:6,7). Jesus' birth was definitely less than picture-perfect! Sure, the nativities you see in homes and stores are ornately crafted and really romanticize the birth of Christ. But, take a minute to really think about what birth in a stable would have looked like! Not beautiful. Not clean. And far from what we consider perfect. Think about how Mary felt putting her tiny baby, the Savior, into a filthy manger and clothing him with any bits of cloth she could find. This was God’s plan and although not picture-perfect, it was a perfect birth for a perfect Savior.
As you decorate your home, partake in new and old Christmas traditions, and place gifts under your beautiful trees, remember to focus on the true gift that was given to us. Christ. Christ came to earth as a tiny baby. He lived a perfect life for us. He took ALL our sins upon himself and died on a cross. And, that’s not where it ends! He rose VICTORIOUSLY from death and lives again. Now we know that through faith, we too can be with him in heaven one day. Our lives aren’t picture perfect and we are all SO sinful. But, rejoice! Christ wipes away our tears and has made us clean. I can’t think of a better gift to share with you than that. Let’s focus on our Savior this season and ALWAYS. "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16).
Now our tree is decorated with white lights and an eclectic collection of ornaments from years passed. Our little girl is giddy about having a real tree in our home. As I snuggle her into my arms she points at an ornament squealing “mouse” and points again at the tree shouting “tree”. One last time she chimes in, rejoicing, “JESUS!” She knows what Christmas is all about. Again and again we ask her, “Whose birthday is it going to be?” “Jesus!” is her excited reply. My heart is happy. Happy Birthday to our Savior!