My children are grown now and live a day’s drive away. Trips home for the holidays are as rare as apple blossoms in January. But whether by phone or by letter, every year we revisit The Tale of the Miracle Tree.
That year our friends started their You-Pick Christmas Tree enterprise. “Sounds like a good deal,” I told my husband. “Plus, we get to spend an afternoon with friends.”
Life is rarely that simple.
With temperatures in single digits, we sucked in courage and went to our friends’ country home. Kerry led the way into the woods then pointed up at the towering pines. “Don’t worry how high the tree is. Once it’s cut down, we’ll trim from the top.”
“That’s the tree I want!” I would have jumped for joy if the three feet of snow hadn’t pinned me down. Fully understanding of my deficient depth perception, my husband responded with uncertainty. “Are you absolutely sure?”
“As sure as when we got married.”
His objections silenced, Kerry chopped the tree down, cutting the tree at the coordinates I suggested. Eying its long green needles, I imagined how beautiful it would look in just a few days.
My husband clicked with worry. “I doubt I can even get it on top of the car.” When my eyes filled with tears, he gave my hand a reassuring squeeze. “We’ll figure something out.” Half an hour later, exhausted but exhilarated, we dropped the tree by the station wagon. Our daughter gazed in wonder at the Goliath. “Even if we get it home, we won’t be able to get it into the house.”
Looking for a glimmer of hope, I found comfort in my husband’s solidarity. “You just let me worry about that.” Using every bungee cord in his toolbox, he secured the tree and ordered us to get into the car. Seeds of doubt eroded my joy.
When we arrived home, my husband took charge. “John, get my saw. If I lop off a few of these bottom branches and trim the trunk, it’ll slide through the door without taking off the hinges.”
An hour later, I brought my husband a warm cup of coffee. He took a sip and shook his head. “I love you,” he said. Translated, he meant, “You’re nuts, woman.”
Once, inside, he looked around. “Where is this twig going?”
I pointed to the dining room and quickly realized the tree was still three feet too tall.
My husband thrives on challenge. “John, get me the saw again. This is the tree your mother wanted. This is the tree we’ll have.”
After a few more adjustments, he hoisted it into the stand, and it toppled over. But my valiant knight secured the tree with yards of strong twine. Like a maniacal marionette without a puppeteer, it swallowed the entire dining room. Over the next few days, we adorned our misshapen treasure with lights and ornaments and ate our meals on TV trays.
Then, on Christmas Eve, the miracle happened.
We piled the presents under what now had been dubbed, The Beast. Our daughter scanned the tree with interest. “Can we sing Christmas Carols?” My husband nodded and grabbed the guitar. Then Edie turned off the house lights.
During Silent Night, suddenly all seemed miraculously calm and bright. With its broad branches, the tree exuded a halo affect, adding angelic chords to our rendition. We could almost see the shepherds as they knelt in wonder at the Savior’s birth. And in that moment, the meaning of Christmas burned in our hearts as never before. The ugliest tree I had ever seen transformed before our eyes, a beautiful emblem of love and hope.
For the next few years, we resumed our old custom of buying a ready-cut tree from the nursery, eventually switching to an artificial one due to worsening allergies. But, from that year on, until one by one our children started their own families and traditions, Christmas carols around the tree became our favorite part of Christmas Eve.
Winner of the 2012 Selah Award for best first novel (The Other Side of Darkness/Harbourlight), LINDA WOOD RONDEAU, writes stories of redemption and God’s mercies. Walk with her unforgettable characters as they journey paths not unlike our own. After a long career in human services, mother of three and wife of one very patient man, Linda now resides in Florida where she is active in her church and community.
Readers may visit her web site at www.lindarondeau.com.
Her second book, America the Second, is a futuristic political thriller now available in ebook on Amazon.com and Kobo. Her serial story, Rains of Terror is prequel.
Linda’s highly successful Christmas Adirondack romance , It Really IS a Wonderful Life, is available through Amazon.com, published by Lighthouse of the Carolinas.
Her first devotional book, I Prayed for Patience/God Gave Me Children is due for release soon by Helping Hands Press.