A friend of mine recently asked me if The Christmas Bride was coming back again!
"Of course," I replied.
And here she is in all of her glory...
One of our oldest family Christmas traditions was borne out of desperation rather than necessity as the age-old axiom asserts. In the early years of our marriage my husband and I argued incessantly over the annual purchase of the Christmas tree. It is not that the man was the incarnate Ebenezer Scrooge, but rather the one who tended to view life from an immensely practical side (I suppose ole Ebenezer did too). My husband's point of view was based on the fact that since we traveled 500 miles to spend Christmas with my family of origin every other year, the purchase of a Christmas tree for a house that would be vacant on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day was totally superfluous. But I, who was raised by the Queen of Christmas Decor, knew otherwise.
It mattered little whether the house was occupied on the actual day of Christmas or Christmas Eve...the tree was an essential component of the festivity and celebration of the season. Yet my husband would not budge. Thus I was forced to badger, cajole, plead, and use every resource available to convince the recalcitrant man that a Christmas tree was a vital purchase EVERY single year.
Once I had won this battle, I had little time to rest on my laurels before another problem arose. The tree was purchased and firmly ensconced in the living room but alas, there were very FEW LIGHTS and virtually NO ORNAMENTS. What was a girl to do? I was desperate. I had won the right to have the tree each year, but who wants a naked tree in the house...staring at you night after night waiting and begging to be dressed in some appropriate holiday finery. And I knew better than to go to my husband and ask for more money to purchase items that he already struggled to find necessary. And so in my desperation I prayed for inspiration and inspiration I found.
The first year I popped popcorn, bought cranberries and made garlands galore until my thumbs were sore from the needles going in and out, in and out as I strung for hours on end. And when I realized the next year that I was in the same boat as before because used popcorn and cranberry garlands are only good for the birds... I prayed once again. On the hunt in our tiny apartment, I dug through an old trunk to find carefully preserved bows, ribbons and leftover tulle from our wedding. I also found a few bits -- a yard or two here and there-- of several laces that I had purchased to embellish a dress or two. Soon these ribbons and laces found their way onto the tree and over time have become the tradition in our home. Now there are ribbons from our daughter's wedding and some gorgeous antique lace given to me by a special friend over 20 years ago that have been added to the original collection.
Each year these ribbons and bits of lace more than garnish our tree-- they serve as the tree's primary decoration and help to make each tree a object of beauty.
When my daughter was about six or seven, she was helping me drape the tree in its finery when she turned to me and said, "Look Mommy, our tree is a bride."
And I stepped back and squinted my eyes just so. And then I saw it. The tall green lady in her odd bits of lace and ribbon had suddenly become a very beautiful bride. And so it has been for the past thirty-five years that all our Christmas trees are brides. Each one different and each one beautiful in her own right.
I love it.
For me, it is another extension of the picture of Christ and his love for His people, the Church. We are His bride and He is the Bridegroom. And each year when we celebrate Christmas, we celebrate the mystery of the unlovely who become the lovely by the grace, mercy, incarnation, and sacrifice of God. And each year our tree stands in her bridal glory as a tangible reminder of that glorious and powerful love.
And here is our tree in wedding finery, another reminder to me of the faithful love of God and the fact that despite the darkness that prevails in the hearts of men, Jesus is the Light of the World.