I Don't Sell X-mas Trees

 

Congested traffic, long lines, beeping horns, all unpleasantly mingled with winter’s icy cold blasts of wind and snow-will I ever get my shopping done and make it home? All I want is a tree to decorate and my Christmas will be complete, thought Jim. But everywhere I have been those thieves want $30 bucks for a dried out tree-surely there’s somebody out there who doesn’t treat Christmas as a  commercialized event for licensed robbery. Whatever happened to those good old fashioned Christmas times of my boyhood?

 

Jim’s mind flashed back to over 30 years in a second to the images of the past: going with his parents to grandma  and grandpa’s house that seemed to radiate with warmth and love, and homemade swiss cookies, the happiness visiting his cousins and playing darts with them at this uncle’s hotel, and the visits to his aunts and uncle’s farm in the country with all the smooth, even, undisturbed snow tobogganing down steep hills fearing for your life… LEARN HOW TO DRIVE OR GET OFF THE ROAD YOU IDIOT!-the screaming attack ripped through Jim’s daydream just short of a rear-end collision with a mini-van. This is too much, he thought- I will have to buy the next tree I find, I can’t take the stress, of this shopping anymore.

 

Jim pulled into a parking lot at the rear of a shopping mall to catch his breath and collect his shattered thoughts. After a few minutes with his composure returning, he noticed out of the corner of his eye, a small dimly lit shack, well behind the mall with an almost unreal sign-CHRISTMAS TREES. Well an answer to a prayer he thought, this is my final stop, no matter what the price.

 

The make-shift shack was constructed of plywood with broken evergreen boughs spread over it on all sides, which concealed its otherwise crude appearance. As Jim approached the entrance he could see what appeared to be a young girl, but there was something ancient about her that made her appear both young and old at the same time, with bright facial features. She was sitting at a make-shift desk, stringing together handmade Christmas decorations for a Scotch pine that was standing in the corner.

 

“Hi” Jim said, “I would like to buy a tree from you.” “What for” she replied pleasantly. Confused by the response Jim said “Well to decorate of course.” “ for what reason” she asked. Confusion was now yielding to anger, Jim fumed; all I need is more hassle today and from some kid. “I will take it home and decorate it, put some presents under it and the people that visit me over the holiday will admire how beautifully it adorns my living room” Jim said sarcastically. “I don’t sell X-mas trees.” she said. Jim was so incensed by now he did not know what to do. He went outside, pulled the sign off the shack and shaking it at her yelled “but you do sell Christmas trees – give me one of them, the one you’re working on will do fine!” “If you are not celebrating the birth of the baby Jesus, then it’s a X-mas tree and I can’t change that.” she spoke gently. He began to feel the heat of a guilty convicted conscience erupt from the depth of his soul. He had let Christmas become nothing more than a seasonal routine and had not thought about the true meaning of Christmas for a long time. “The warmth and love in your past and the sanctuary you would like to escape to was a time when you were steeped in Christian love and the Christ child lived in your heart. You equate it with material images that have evaporated with your youth but it is your distance from God that leaves you at a loss. At Christmas you always pray for a miracle to make you feel fulfilled and happy, but the miracle of Christmas has already happened.” A cold chill ran through Jim’s body “how did you know about the miracle wishes.” Jim stammered “I have never told anyone that.” The girl now appeared taller and seemed to be surrounded by a faint glow of light and radiated heat. “The Child born in Bethlehem is God’s miracle, come down from heaven and a bridge of reconciliation between God and mankind.” This angel (he thought) no longer a girl certainly, was now the height of a basket ball player and the light she was radiating was becoming unbearable. “It is you who have moved away from God Jim, he never changes, the peace you seek has always been available to you.” The being now towering over him was beyond earthly description, beautiful and frightening with a voice like thunder and the intensity of the heat he felt was scorching him from the inside out. He wanted to run but deep within him an almost inaudible voice kept telling him to stay. “Behold I bring you tidings of great joy which shall be to you and all people, for unto you, this day, is born in the city of David is a Saviour who is Christ the Lord.” Jim felt as if he was going to melt into the pavement but then in the next moment all was quiet and almost everything was gone, the girl, the shack-all that remained was one Christmas tree with a tag that read:

 

TAKE THE TREE THAT BECAME THE CROSS, FOR THE CHILD TO PREVENT OUR LOSS, OUT OF LOVE, HE PAID THE PRICE FOR OUR ETERNAL PARADISE.