A family’s Christmas tree may not be as elegant as the ones seen on television or department stores, but I daresay they are richer. Look carefully, and the Christmas tree is also probably a family tree, each branch holding clusters of history. Come in and let me show you ours.
There, on the bottom there. The little boy who used his small hands to craft that paper plate wreath now has the hands of a grown man. He uses them now to write term papers and flip the pages of thick Biology books in preparation for final exams. And in the back there, that’s a ten year old cookie baked by a little girl who has long given up dreams of catching a glimpse of reindeer on the rooftop, and asks for clothes instead. That small piece of paper over there, behind the candy cane, it must have gotten turned around somehow. If you flip it around you’ll find “mary kris moss, mom” scribbled in red crayon by another little boy who has long since learned proper spelling.
That little thing in the front? It’s actually very old gum foil that has long lost its silver sheen. For you see, it has been wrapped around that old hooked berry since the late 1920’s. Growing up in a poor family, our Nana’s family walked down dirt roads looking for anything that might shine. Gum wrappers were Nana’s favorite. They were the perfect size to wrap around the hooked berries that fell off their back yard tree. Their stems were shaped perfectly to hang on the tree their father brought in from the forest.
Up near the top is a pujok. It may seem out of place on a Christmas tree, as it is an old Korean talisman used to ward off evil. But my mother was only 6, you see, when Korea fought back against the Japanese occupation. She spent many nights under the house. It made her cry to see her father afraid when the Japanese came through their town. But they were never found. She knows now that it was God’s hand, but at the time, she thought it was the pujok posted on their wall that had kept them safe. So it is only on the tree for remembering.
And on the very top is a star that was recently clutched in the hands of our youngest child. He was perched precariously on his father’s shoulders, struggling to place that star at the highest point, that’s why it’s a little crooked. But that star is the pinnacle of our family tree, representative of the One who is the light in the darkness. The One who has guided our family for generations, and continues to guide us just as the star guided the wise men so long ago to the birthplace of our Savior.