By Jacqi Ballough
In the center of our home, an evergreen Christmas tree covered with lights and cherished ornaments collected throughout the years is one of the first holiday decorations up. Once the tree is fully lit and adorned, the final touch takes team effort: a red star. Since my son was a toddler, he has climbed upon Daddy’s shoulders and while giggling with delight, set a red star on top. It is a family tradition.
In fact, I am that person who gets so excited about Christmas that our tree goes up Thanksgiving week. And yes, I love listening to Christmas music beginning that week as well, and buying gifts, arranging the Nativity scene, preparing greeting cards, baking, and hanging the advent calendar! I love all of it!
Why? It all points to Jesus!
As a young mother, I yearned to share the true meaning of Christmas to our son and not become lost in materialism. Unfortunately, I didn’t know much but was ready to find out! By God’s grace, I had a friend who gave me a book, The ADVENTure of Christmas, by Lisa Whelchel. It explains the Biblical roots and significance of many of our traditions, even candy canes and Old Saint Nick. Through its short stories and simple holiday crafts, I have learned and taught both young and old for years.
For instance, did you know circa 700 AD a missionary named Winfrid (Saint Boniface) was supposedly the first person to use the triangular shape of the evergreen as an object lesson symbolic of the Holy Trinity (God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit)? The color green represents everlasting life and the point at the top sets our gaze to heaven.
And have you noticed the boughs of the tree extend like Jesus’s arms on the cross, reminding us of his loving sacrifice? For us He came, and for us He died bearing “our sins in His body on the tree (the cross), so that we might die to sin and live for righteousness.” (1 Peter 2:24)
Another fascinating legend is of Martin Luther’s contribution to our tradition. He was walking home one December evening amazed by the beauty of God’s creation and the stars in the night sky reflecting onto the evergreen forest. He was filled with awe and wanted to re-create the scene for his family. Therefore, he chopped down a tree, took it home, and set it in the center. Then in an attempt to mimic the stars reflecting onto the trees, he placed lit candles on the boughs. This is a wonderful illustration of how the heavens declare the Glory of God and Jesus is the Light of the World.
And why do we place the tree in the center of our home? Because our lives are to be centered around Christ. Our actions, words, and heart. He is our salvation, hope, and future. Merry CHRISTmas!