We have a little artificial Christmas Tree, with its tiny white lights, sitting on a little end table in our front room. The base of the tree is what appears to be a sector of a log… very sturdy and very protective. There are remnants of white crinkly tinsel on the branches of this tree. There are little pine cones scattered about on the tips of many of the branches. And a little red sled ornament, with the lone word FLYER written across the front, hangs delicately, but resolutely, from one of the branches. During the day, the sun pours into this room and makes the tiny white lights sparkle in spite of being unplugged. At night, the twinkling lights from this little Christmas Tree are visible from the front and side windows of our home… beckoning us with its warmth. From the inside, this little tree warms our very hearts.
This may seem as ordinary a tree as any little artificial Christmas Tree. But this tree carries a great Christmas Lesson.
This little tree belonged to my late mother-in-law, Flo. I don’t know where she got it, but I remember her having it year after year. As Flo got older, this little manageable Christmas Tree replaced her much bigger tree… and she loved setting it up each year. Flo loved buying gifts, wrapping gifts, placing gifts under and around her tree… and giving gifts. Most especially, though, Flo loved having people come to her apartment to see her Christmas Tree with its lights and crinkly white tinsel and pine cones and meaningful ornaments and gifts. This was her joy.
Barry and I would often take Flo out to dinner or to our home and to events and occasions. When we would arrive back at her apartment, Flo would inevitably say, “Come on up.” Or “Come on in.” At Christmas time, Flo would be especially insistent. “Come see my tree,” she’d say…
Sometimes we would. But most times we would be rushing. Rushing to get home. Rushing to get ready for the next day. Rushing. Rushing. No time. Not enough time. Thinking, I suppose, that time would stand still. But time has its own way of tick-tock-ticking.
Time has a way of rushing around us. Time has a miraculous way of giving. Time has a way of taking. Time has a way of taking people from us. When Flo passed away last year, Barry and I gathered up all of her boxes of Christmas things. She had lights and handmade ornaments, little figurines and garland, big fluffy garlands of tinsel. And she had the little Christmas Tree… the Christmas Tree that we could have spent a little more time admiring. A little more time complimenting. A little more time. Just a little.
But it’s the balance of time that the little Christmas Tree has taught us. Flo already knew that the lunches we were heading home to make for the kids were important to us at the time. She already knew that we didn’t know. Yet. As we drove away, we would see the little tree from her window…
But we didn’t know. Yet. We didn’t know the lesson that perhaps our own children and grandchildren don’t know. And can’t know. Yet.
There will always be lunches to be made. There will always be laundry to be folded. There will always be homework to check. But time takes care of these little things. It’s US who takes care of people.
I don’t write this post with a heavy heart… but rather with a feeling of Christmas. Flo has given us this lesson from her new place as the FLYER… the FLYER Angel! Now I know that the little ornament was left on the tree for a purpose. She is here. She is happy. She is like a little kid again… but this time passing along all the wisdom and lessons of the ages through that treasured little Christmas Tree…
Give time. It’s the simplest of gifts. But it’s the greatest gift of all.