Christmas Tree House

Going to a farm or a mountain to cut down a Christmas tree belies the tricks of human perception. A tree that looks majestic and just right while it’s firmly planted into the ground outdoors, once chopped and transported back to the home, is transformed into something altogether different. Trying to carry it into the house on its side, like a hide-a-bed or a casket, the tree is suddenly too wide, needs to be trimmed to even it out; that one branch will have to be cut off or hidden somehow. The sap we never noticed seems to be everywhere, oozing and sticking to my hand with every grasp.

It is fresh, the fresh-cut aroma filling the air, but it takes up so much space in the room that seemed more than adequate before, now suddenly becomes one where we think of raising the ceiling or bumping the room out into the porch outside, or at least expanding the window into a bay.

Taming the tree, getting it trimmed down and put up and then decorated and lit, is so much harder than I thought, than I imagined it to be. But it’s a tradition we enjoy every year. We make it work.

Christmas is when people try to bring God into the house, too. Like the tree, a concept to be tamed, adapted, trimmed and made to fit into the homes we’ve made, but only for a season, and then, unplugged and dragged out to the curb for the trash. Lights we enjoy for the season and then, gone.

How much more wild is God than this tree. Maker, creator, the One audaciously being born in a place for animals, close to the wilds, outside the cozy inn. There’s no fitting him, really, into a home, no chopping him down to size or strapping him to the top of a car. Nevertheless, we marshall on.

Then, without much warning, suddenly it seems, we’re not bringing God into the house; but he’s going crazy to bring us into a different house, one we don’t own or even know. All the work we’ve done to make things seem warm and welcoming, all the money we’ve spent on lights and ornaments and food, all the gifts, fall away, because there’s something else going on, something we cannot see. The dawning realzation comes that our home is not our home.

We hang our Christmas art on the walls of our homes. The winter Grandma Moses print, a winter village full of activity, a red frame I did myself a few years back, the nail and picture hanger positioned just right so it hangs evenly above our couch.

Jesus stretches out his arms, open-palmed and rests them on the tree, braced to receive the nail.

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