“So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit.” – Matthew 7:17-18
Whether it is a real spruce or made of metal and plastic, most of the people I know put a Christmas tree in the front window of their home every year. Why the front window? So that people outside of the home can bask in its glory!
So according to Matthew, being facetious of course, if every tree bears healthy or bad fruit, what is the fruit of a Christmas tree?
When I was little, I would have answered, “Candy canes!” Because my mother would hang them all over our tree and let us eat them throughout the month of December. My dad would have joked that Christmas tree fruit tastes like cardinal poop or something. My mother, being the romantic that she is, would have burst out in My Favorite Things from The Sound of Music.
Now that I’m all grown up, my answer is different. The fruit of my Christmas tree is stress, comparison, obligation, and disappointment . . . camouflaged in pretty bright lights. Dad would have been right; my fruit tastes like crap.
The last few years I have utterly failed at honoring Jesus at Christmas. I get overwhelmed by the logistics of the holiday season. Work is crazy busy at the end of the year, I make a list of my obligations to people, I get down on myself for not serving or being generous enough with my time and money, I start thinking how people will be disappointed with my (often homemade) gifts, and especially how Jesus will be disappointed with my bad attitude about the whole thing.
When I was a child, Christmas was always so incredible that as an adult I can’t figure out how to not make it a disappointment. Am I alone here?
Christmas as a child was carefree! Shopping for just the right gift for Mom (ultimately ending up in aerosol perfume with my $2 limit) was exciting and I was confident she would love it! (Sorry about that, Mom) I loved watching Mom and Christel make food and gingerbread houses while I got my hand slapped for picking at everything. Dad made peanut brittle in the kitchen (where he was rarely, not to mention we were not allowed much candy). Christmas movies were playing back to back on TV. School let us do Christmas crafts and coloring pages instead of homework. Church prepped us for a pageant where we wore fancy shoes. Family came into town that I absolutely adored. Mom and Dad took turns reading us Christmas stories and teaching us moral lessons about giving. Mom would decorate the inside of the house and Dad would decorate the outside of the house. There was sledding and friends, break from school, songs about Baby Jesus, and sometimes we even made Jesus a birthday cake. And then of course there were the mounds of gifts on Christmas day, followed by a month of fun playing with said gifts!
Christmas was amazing because as a child it truly was a season of giving and receiving while basking in the joy of Lord. Even sledding can be about Jesus when rolling up our gratitude to God. God takes great pleasure when He sees us enjoying the gifts He’s given us. Nothing was an obligation; everything that had to be done was an opportunity to celebrate! Not to mention the “to-do list” is miles shorter when you’re young. So is it possible to get that kind of carefree joy back as an adult? And if so, how?
First, as we are to be imitators of Christ, let’s recognize what God takes joy in.
God takes joy in His SON.
“and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”-Matthew 3:17
God takes joy in His CREATION.
“God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good.” –Genesis 1:31a
God takes joy in HUMANKIND.
” What is man, that you make so much of him, and that you set your heart on him, visit him every morning and test him every moment?” (Job 7:17-18).
God takes joy in SALVATION.
“Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” –Luke 15:10
By all means, if you can still eat candy, eat candy! If your body still allows you to sled, go sledding! If your budget allows you to buy gifts, then buy them! But if you are looking for your lasting joy in an adult Christmas, like me, you may no longer find it in these things.
“For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” – Romans 14:17
When your tummy is full and your heart is still empty this Christmas, I encourage you to take your next meal in Christ.
“Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I am called by your name, O Lord, God of hosts. ” –Jeremiah 15:16
Like our Creator, your joy will be found in His Son; and through Jesus, the salvation of His most precious creation.
“You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” –Psalm 16:11
Take a moment now, and ask God to help you find your joy in Him this Christmas.
“Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit. “ –Psalm 51:12
This year I make a commitment to change. Would you like to join me?
“I, Candice (say your own name), commit to balancing generosity with rest. I commit to not compare my tree, house, or life to anyone else’s. I will be grateful for my present circumstances, and seek out to let the wonderful people in my life know they are wonderful (some may be verbal and not a physical gift). I commit to being sacrificial with my time and money, while having grace with myself for not “doing” enough for others. I will be a Christ pleaser and not a people pleaser. I will choose what is right for my family no matter what others expect from me. I will seek out pleasure in Paleo Christmas treats, silly Christmas movies, and the snow. I will let people into my house even though it is dirty and messy, and not worry about what they think of me (Lord, I need lots of help with this one). I will slow down, take time for prayer and Scripture, and remember to honor Jesus by taking joy and having gratitude in the meaning of His birth, death, and resurrection. This Christmas, I commit to producing good fruit.”
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” -Romans 15:13
This year when you plug in the lights of your Christmas tree, take a moment to consider the health of the fruit you are illuminating in the front window of your house.
“Either make the tree good and its fruit good or make the tree bad and its fruit bad. It can’t be both, can it?” – Matthew 12:33
After the kitchen demolition, we cleaned up the dust and busted out the Christmas tree!
This will be our first Christmas in this house, so we had to decide on all the “hows” and “wheres” for the tree and décor.
We hung a bunch of Nate’s childhood ornaments, my grandmother’s vintage felt ornaments, a wool rope braid, crocheted twine, and of course Nate stuck a random squirrel skin in there. We named him Francisco.
All that’s needed is some gifts tucked under there!
I have to admit I was cringing as Nate was piling on his childhood ornaments. The shallow side of me wants the tree to be well designed and lovely. But seeing all the memories and joy it brings to Nate brought me back to the deep end of the pool. The tree really is pretty, rustic, and fun.
Malika, my mom’s dog, and I were hanging out while Nate hung lights on the living room window. She’s pouting because she wants my shrimp.
Haha, it looks a little like Vegas on the inside, but very pretty outside.
Nate had been busy on the inside of the house, and I was busy outside.
So after our first big snow . . .
I was really kicking myself for not having prepped the cherry trees earlier. If we don’t keep up on the deer repellent spray after the rain (and we’ve been getting a lot of rain), the deer are all over these trees. God, please help me keep them alive.
All of the hardware stores had been out of the tree rings, so I had to rig something up.
So the evening of the snowfall, I sat in my living room chair and started cutting fabric into long strips . . . and wound them around a beer bottle (yes, neighbors saw me stumbling around in the snow in my pajamas holding a beer bottle with a giant koozy. Nice).
I cleared the snow from the bottom of the tree and tied the end of the strip on with a knot.
And started wrapping.
No, it’s not cute. But it’s protected!
The second one was a lot easier because its branches were still limber so I was able to bend them all up against the trunk.
The zebra grass is still so pretty . . . anyway, so we will use the deer repellent spray on the fabric which will hold the stank longer amidst precipitation. The fabric will also protect the tree from the weather.
They look a little funny, but worth it to protect my investment! It’s not too late to get out there and do yours if you have deer issues.
So after the “work” stuff, it was time for the “fun” stuff! It worked out perfectly that I had décor that matched my Babe-the-blue-ox house.
I prefer simplicity in decorating. A pop of red on the door worked out great.
I worked so hard on those window boxes, I should be using them all year!
The front came together nicely. We are ready for Christmas!