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Tumbleweed Christmas

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"Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means `God is with us.'" Matthew 1:23 NLT

My memory wanders back to a much simpler time, when life for this six-year-old child was one of great wonder. It was the winter of 1970 and my family had only recently moved to the Southwest. Snow covered the landscape and it seemed the wind blew constantly. With Christmas just around the corner, I worried as there was no tree in our living room, and no gifts to wonder about. As a small child my understanding about finances was slim, nor did I consider where the gifts might come from.

Christmas morning dawned as I crept quietly to the living room. In the faint shadows just before daylight, I could see a tree with presents under it. Afraid of being in trouble I ran back to my bed, waiting impatiently for the call announcing that it was time to get up. In my imagination, I saw the green boughs of a Christmas tree, and I imagined what was in those gifts under that tree.

“Time to get up”, echoed through our home and my little heart beat wildly. Unable to contain my excitement any longer, I ran to the living room. My small feet skidded to a stop. Before me stood a tree like none I had ever seen before. Two tumbleweeds, one on top of the other, and lightly dusted with spray snow, graced the corner of our living room. Upon that pitiful little “tree” my Mother had made a paper chain of red and green construction paper. Ropes of popcorn also circled the little tree. Behind the tree, nailed to the wall, were four stockings. In each of those stockings we found an orange and a candy cane. Each present contained a pair of flannel pajamas, made with expert care by my Mother’s hands.

As I stared at our Christmas tree, tears welled up inside of my heart. My dreams of a big, green tree decorated with tinsel and lights were gone, and my little heart was broken. Somewhere deep within me I knew that my Mother had done all that she could do for us on that cold morning. My young heart also knew that I must hide my disappointment and put on a face of surprise and happiness.

As the years passed and I became an adult, I realized the love that had gone into that tree. There had not been any electricity in our house, yet my Mother had made flannel pajamas on an old treadle sewing machine. When asked of that Christmas she had dropped her head, almost embarrassed to speak of such things. Somehow she knew that I had been disappointed. A child’s heart does not understand these things, but as an adult I have learned to cherish the memory of that tumbleweed Christmas tree. To remember the love that was put into it by my Mother who was determined to do something with nothing for her children.

"And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus,  for he will save his people from their sins." Matthew 1:21 NLT

As I ponder my plans for the holidays, I think of what Christmas really means. It is not about what I might get for Christmas; it is so much more about what Jesus did for me. It is also about what I can do for others. Whether I have a lot of money or very little, it does not matter what I get or how much money was spent. Every time I think of that tumbleweed Christmas tree, I am reminded of what Christmas is really about.

Copyright © 2009 Danni Andrew. Used by permission.

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