Thursday, December 25, 2008

The Christmas without a tree

Pin It I was reminded the other day of a Christmas I celebrated while I was a missionary in Litchfield, Illinois a decade ago. I remember this particular Christmas because it was the first year I’d ever celebrated the holiday without a tree. My missionary companion wanted to get one, but I told him about a family I knew back in Washington, the Dixons, who’d celebrated the season without one.

I told him about how they’d instead gathered branches, and with pieces of twine, had constructed a manger they’d filled with straw. I told him how they’d placed their presents to each other underneath the manger—a visual reminder of the greatest gift, the one which was given to us all on this holy night we celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

That year, I wanted to do the same thing. So my companion and I collected branches from the neighborhood and constructed a manger for our little flat, garnishing it with white lights to help us remember the true ‘light’ of the world. In the manger we’d placed a careworn blanket and the gifts from our families were positioned below it.

That was the year that I really started to understand the true meaning of Christmas…after all, it’s far too easy to lose oneself in all of the goodies, the beautifully decorated tree, and friends who come a-calling. Sometimes we forget the reason we really give gifts when we’re skirmishing crowds at busy shopping malls and department stores.

The true meaning—and reason—for Christmas I think it is summed up wonderfully by Linus van Pelt, from Charles Schultz’ cartoon, Peanuts.

Let us not forget.


Gerb said...


jayniemoon said...

Wonderful, Jason. Amen, amen.

I hope you had a happy day!

Anonymous said...

So true!
Merry Christmas!

Lydia said...

That's a cool idea about the manger instead of the tree. We alway act out the Christmas story while someone reads it out of the sciptures. It's great to take a moment and remenmber what all the fun is really about.

Stephen T said...

WOW! This brought back memories of my first Mission Christmas 21 years ago. (I am dating myself now.) Christmas in the mission field is the best way to learn the real meaning of the season. Thanks for sharing.

Teachinfourth said...

Gerb - Hallelujah to your 'Amen!'

Jaynie - Thanks for coming by. Hope the rest of your hols are good as well.

KJ - Yep.

Lydia - That is a great idea...I just read about it on your blog and saw the photos. What an excellent way to help remember the true meaning of the season.

Stephen - You're welcome. Hope your holidays were great.

Michelle said...

Hey I remember that hair cut, great message by the way.....I am missing you:(

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