Every Christmas, bar possibly one, my father-in-law brings home a terrible tree. Either it’s too tall, too skinny, too crooked, or, like this time, too wrong in every way. He bought (no idea why they charged him for it) his tree this year, and decided to split it with a friend. The outcome is a short bush with a wide bit close to the middle, and a long, relatively straight spike at the top. The greatest thing is, no-one makes him go out and get a better one. Everyone just laughs, happy that the legend of the worst tree ever is still alive. Even now, days after I first saw a picture of it, I’m still chuckling. What could be better than that, really?!
Life is full of imperfections and disappointments; we see them all the time. Mostly, we wish they could be brushed out, improved, or taken away. Mostly, that is not an option. The big ones are far from funny, but the little ones are best dealt with with laughter. When I’m remembering my frequent times of imbalance or leg weakness, I find it lifts me to laugh at my silliness. When I’m in the middle of it, I’ll be honest, the funny side is not as easy to find.
The first Christmas was far from perfect either. I am certain that the stable (or whatever it actually was) was not clean and warmly lit, and I find it hard to believe that Jesus, both man and God, did not roar as much as any other baby. That line, ‘But little Lord Jesus no crying He makes’ is based on the golden ideals of Renaissance paintings, not on the harsh reality of a very gritty Nativity. God did not select a palace for His Son. He placed Him as close to the bottom of the social ladder as He could. And who were the first visitors? Shepherds. I love the picture of dazzling angels shining their light onto a group of filthy vagabonds. That was the mind-boggling moment when perfection bent down and embraced imperfection.
So, if your tree is a little on the ugly side, cover it in sparkle and remember we are celebrating the perfect God coming to this drastically imperfect earth as man.
What a wonder.