The year we couldn’t afford a Christmas tree

I learned so much about trusting God.

It’s been nearly 15 years ago, but the Lord recently brought back to mind the blessings of that unusual year.

Our family was new to the area, we’d only moved in that August.

We were on a fixed income with no way to earn more.

But it remains one of my fondest Christmas memories.

Our children were elementary school age and younger, so it wasn’t an easy thing to try to explain why we weren’t going to have a Christmas tree.

We’d come from a place where we could drive into the mountains and cut a tree for the price of the license and a tank of gas.

But the Lord had moved us into a large city and Christmas trees had to be shipped in.

I remember turning to the Lord in prayer after the tears of disappointment in our children’s eyes.

He taught me to be creative.

I found an old sheet left by the previous tenants and got out the markers.

I drew a Christmas tree on the sheet and we hung it on a blank wall in the front room.

Later, our oldest daughter was helping me create a backdrop for a church play our children’s Sunday school was putting on.

It was the manager scene and I recall my surprise as she broke the silence.

“Mommy, Jesus didn’t have a nice place to sleep when he was born, did He?”

I looked up at her and smiled, her sudden awareness of Christ’s circumstances brought a change in both of us.

“No, He didn’t. You’ve been to Grandma’s barn, can you imagine having a baby in a place like that?”

She shook her head.

“Mommy, Jesus didn’t get any Christmas presents did He.”

“No, He didn’t, but God did send the Wisemen with gifts.”

And in that moment I realized God’s blessing to us in a new way.

If we’d had the ability to purchase a Christmas tree I’d never have looked for an alternative, and that alternative is what led me to decorating another bedsheet for the play, which led to this beautiful moment with our daughter.

God was far from finished teaching me that Christmas.

I remember Christmas Eve struggling with my disappointment.

I was praying and washing dishes in the kitchen when our doorbell rang.

We hadn’t expected anyone, so we all gathered around the door when my husband opened.

It was a lady from our church with two of her grandchildren in tow.

“Merry Christmas!” She greeted us warmly and allowed us to take her coat and those of the children.

“I just knew your little ones are probably missing their grandparents so I thought I’d fill in for them!”

She handed each of our children a gift and then encouraged them to open them.

As the children played on the floor with her grandkids we enjoyed tea and cookies.

Before long, another person rang our door bell.

It was someone else from our church with gifts for our children.

They took stayed to enjoy a chat and tea.

And they weren’t the last ones to arrive bearing gifts and wishing us a Merry Christmas.

I remember feeling ashamed of myself that night after getting into bed.

Ashamed that I’d been so focused on the things that were different, I’d nearly lost the opportunity to praise the Lord for all He had done.

It’s probably the best Christmas present I’ve received (excluding the birth of our third daughter).

For I learned the importance of allowing God to direct our celebration rather than tradition or personal expectation.

Because if I’m neglecting the Lord direction, my efforts are wasted.

John 4:24 KJV — God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

Dear Lord Jesus,

Thank You so much for Your blessings. Thank You for teaching me continually about Yourself and Your path for my life. Lord Jesus, thank You for answering so many prayers and directing my heart and mind. Truly, You are good and Your ways are perfect. Nothing I come up with compares to You and Your gifts for us. Lord, thank You for how You are walking with us in all things. Thank You for teaching us so much and for giving us Your Word. Lord, please help me to be totally surrendered to Your will and Your ways, for I want to glorify Your name in all I do and say. Lord, thank You for Your birth. May we, each one, reflect upon the incredible blessings You have bestowed. In Your name I pray, Jesus. Amen.


3 thoughts on “The year we couldn’t afford a Christmas tree

  1. Pingback: The year we couldn’t afford a Christmas tree — patientlyhopeful – QuietMomentsWithGod

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