“A Special Christmas Tree” by Steve Negley
My immediate family knows the joy I find in my little collections. They have helped that joy to grow by helping me add to a collection of nativity sets. Over a decade ago, Teresa, Thomas, and Stewart gave me the nativity set that actually now sits atop a curio cabinet filled with nativities.
It’s a Christmas Tree (a Hallmark Big-Button Tree) which helps tell the story of the birth of our Lord as the figures hang from its button-clad branches. When the tree is unadorned, the soft plush green fabric branches display the attached buttons like the colorful ornaments on many of the trees that grace our homes during the holiday season. But the buttons are there for a reason – to give a prominent place to the stars of the story.
When I was presented this tree, my family had also purchased the “starter set” of little stuffed ornaments – Mary, Joseph, the Baby Jesus, and an angel. These four are always grouped in one section together, standing there as the heart of the story. The next year, my family presented me with another set of soon to hang figurines — the three bearded wise men bearing gifts, and the star that led them to the Christ. I either have them hang in order, from top to bottom in a section of the tree, or I scatter them around among the next set of ornaments, the animals. Hallmark produced (and my family secured for me in a subsequent year) a sheep, a donkey, and a camel for those of us who wanted to flesh out the tale on our Big Button Christmas Trees. Sadly, it seems that there weren’t enough of us in the market to support the continued telling of the story, because Hallmark discontinued the ornament series before they produced the shepherds. (I have considered buying up several Josephs, and changing their beard colors and wardrobes to have my own custom group of shepherds, but so far this is only in the planning stage. What would I do with the 3 extra Mary and Jesus dolls that would be acquired in the deal?)
I keep this nativity on display all year. And I usually use this special Christmas tree to help me tell the story of the birth of Christ to the church’s children sometime during each Advent season. The nativity tree, like the good news it helps proclaim, gives me a comforted feeling every time I handle it.
Scripture: Psalm 1:1-3
Thought for the Day: What type of Christmas tree did your family have while you were a child?
Prayer: Thank you, God, for the story of your love in Jesus that members of the family share so well with one another. In Christ’s name we pray. Amen