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    by Susan McGrath

The Naked Tree
Date Posted: December 17, 2005

This is the second - okay, maybe third -year in a row that our Christmas tree has stood in the living room wearing absolutely nothing, completely naked, for at least week. Rather pitiful, my procrastination, not the tree.

This is the time of year we expect to see naked trees. But they're usually outside and a bit taller. They spill their colors and then hold a silent vigil through the cold and snow to erupt with new, green life in the spring. Those obviously are not the trees I'm talking about.

I refer to a well-shaped Balsam fir, fragrant with - well, with the scent of a fir, I guess. So far I haven't been able to smell this one due to sinus trouble, but my family tells me it's pleasant enough. This poor tree is lovely, with green needles and a rare straight trunk. But it's naked! Because I've been busy and don't like to string tree lights. My husband has been working and has never, to my knowledge, strung tree lights.

So there it sits. My kids have asked, "When are you going to put the lights on the tree so we can decorate it?" I keep promising, "Soon." It's past soon.

Heavy gold ornaments in the shapes of leaves, musical instruments, cathedral windows; bright colored ornaments saved from my youth; baby's firsts in pastel blues - booties and bottles and pacifiers; dogs and cartoon characters; new additions from our summer vacation to the mountains - a canoe, a moose, a gold-dipped aspen leaf - all await their entitled places on the tree.

Unlike Adam and Eve in the garden, the tree feels no shame at its unclothed state. In fact, its stark beauty is a better reminder of what we are celebrating than if the branches were weighted down with images of the world.

I don't know if there were balsam firs near Bethlehem to welcome the Christ child into our world, but the bare tree makes me think of His humble birth. It also brings to mind a much barer tree on a hill called Golgotha, which fulfilled his purpose on earth.

Maybe I should just leave the decorations off this year and let all those who see it ponder. Then again, I think I hear my kids calling, "Can we decorate the tree tonight?"

And after all, the meaning of Christmas is not in a tree, but in our hearts.

"For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." - Isaiah 9:6

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Biography Information:
Susan McGrath is:

a recovering journalist trying to encourage others and glorify God through writing;

living the small-town life with husband Tim and sons Lincoln, 12, and Sawyer, 6;

completing a few put-off writing projects while using chocolate for therapy.
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