I didn’t put a tree up this year. My Nativity is still in boxes.
I had planned to decorate, but it just didn’t happen. I really didn’t “feel it”.
Oh, I’m not completely devoid of Christmas bling. I set out a couple of Santas and a table top tree. Some Holly and lights, but that’s about all.
All season, my lack of Christmas decorations have reminded me of a Christmas past. Almost daily, I’ve thought of an elderly woman and her little granddaughter that lived near me when I was a kid. The Wilsons.
They had very little in the way of material things. Their house was always drafty and cold.
And one cold Christmas Eve, I visited their home. I don’t remember for sure, but most likely I took them some of my mama’s Christmas candies… Irish Potato Candy and Chocolate Drop Cookies.
I remember walking from my family’s humble but warm home, to theirs, trying carefully not to disturb their dog, Smut. I was terrified of him.
It was Christmas, and in the naivety of any eight year-old, I assumed the Wilson’s home would be different for the Christmas Season. Different than it was the rest of the year. In our house, we had a beautiful evergreen tree, standing tall and fat, twinkling in the front window. Our tree made the entire house smell like Christmas. It was covered in red garlands, silver tinsel and bright, wintry lights. Colorful packages waited beneath the evergreen branches, reflecting the lights of the tree. Even our front door was decorated. So when I knocked on the Wilson’s door, I expected to find the same warm Christmas lights filling their living room.
My brother and I spent a lot of time trying to guess what great surprises were being held by the gift boxes under our tree, all while anticipating bikes and a Red Kiddie Kar from Santa. I assumed Mrs. Wilson’s granddaughter was enjoying the same Christmas excitement that we were experiencing.
When I knocked on their door, Mrs. Wilson opened it and invited me in. She was old, frail. Waif like. But she was physically strong. Or maybe she just pushed herself forward, because that was her only option. Summer and winter alike, I had watched her working in her yard, hauling water buckets from her creek’s well. Even a kid could see that she was a hard-working woman. I was aware that she was at least as old as my own grandmother.
That Christmas Eve, I accepted her invitation to come inside. As soon as I entered their house, my eyes went to their tree, and my heart dropped. A lump formed in my throat as I attempted to prevent tears from choking me. Their Christmas tree was a skinny branch of a Georgia Pine, and I knew Mrs. Wilson had cut it from a tree in her yard. There was a strand of lights woven through the “tree”, but only one bulb burned. It was a frosty cobalt blue bulb, it was the prettiest Christmas light I had ever seen. And the saddest tree I had ever seen.
Mrs. Wilson’s granddaughter was younger than me. She had beautiful brown eyes, full of curiosity, wonder and a hint of sadness. I wanted to cry again when the little girl pointed to the scraggly little pine branch, and with a huge smile asked, “See my tree?!”
I smiled back at her, and said, “It’s pretty. I like your blue light.”
To this day, blue Christmas lights are my favorite.
Mrs. Wilson told me she had biscuits in the oven. Would I like a sugar biscuit? I had never heard of a sugar biscuit, but I gladly accepted a warm golden mound of bread, sprinkled with sugar. She silently nodded yes, when she saw that I liked the dessert she had offered. The dessert of a poor woman.
That Christmas Eve, I left their little house changed… older. I left feeling sad for them. Grieved because there were no gifts under their tree. Fearful that Santa wouldn’t visit them.
I went home and shared a heavy heart with my mom. I was worried, I was afraid I had unwittingly eaten part of their dinner, when I ate that biscuit.
My mom explained that Mrs. Wilson had offered the bread because she wanted to… that’s what she had to give, all she had to give, and she had wanted to share.
I love Christmas trees and Christmas lights. I’ve enjoyed looking at your photos this year. And driving up Main Street at night, no other purpose than to view the holiday lights.
But this Christmas, I’ve been acutely aware of the people that a commercial christmas overlooks.
This year, may we all remember it’s not about spending money and putting out lots of decorations. It’s about remembering a Baby who was born to be your Savior. Christmas is in your ♥️, not your wallet.
If you have nothing more to give than a sugar biscuit and an innocent, heartfelt greeting, “See my tree?”
Then know that what you have to give, is what matters.
Merry Christmas 🎄
The Alexandersen Boys
Photo courtesy of Lauren Alexandersen