When the Tree Lights Go Out

English: Closeup of a string of decorative Chr...

It happens every year. After Christmas and New Year celebrations end, a melancholy comes upon me and I struggle to make sense of life.

I’d like to blame it on the cold, but weather has little to do with it, for the melancholy has come in desert sun and in northeast snow. It isn’t about depression, or seasonal affective disorder, or disillusionment.

It’s about living out the reality of Christmas once the lights on the tree have gone out.

When my winter world sparkles with white light and presents I can believe that God is here and he is Good. I can believe that all I do matters, that I can make a difference, that the world can be redeemed.

And then the lights go out and the world feels dark. And I understand how my toddler felt when I used to turn the lights off and leave him alone in the dark with Jesus.

It’s now when I need the verses I have committed to memory; it’s at this point when my theology faces off with my reality; it’s in this place that I need Truth to feed my soul and calm my spirit. It’s today that my Faith needs to walk.

How about you? As the lights of the tree fade into your memory and photo book, how do you live the reality of Christmas?

Boston Christmas Trees – A Family Tradition

In our family the Hallmark picture postcard of a family out in the open air, bundled up with hats and mittens dragging the freshly cut pine Christmas tree across newly fallen snow is a picture that exists in an alternate universe. We live in a city and although we could go to the wilds and pick out a tree, we have captured a new kind of picture post card – that of a family bundled up, dodging traffic and praying for a parking space, finally picking a tree against a backdrop of city buildings and mural decorated brick.

That’s why we love Boston Christmas Trees. In the five years that we’ve lived in Cambridge it’s become a family tradition. Best of all is our “Christmas tree guy”, Tyler. This man has watched us argue, taken our pictures, and packed up the tree, placing it securely on the roof or our car every year. As my son said “He’s as much a Christmas tradition as red and green m&m’s, shrimp cocktail, and treasure hunts…”

Yearly we walk into the area with drama. We begin to look over the trees, arguing loudly about the merits and defects of each tree, oblivious to others who may find this annoying. Some go with the huge trees, some want the small; others go for the just right. We ultimately hold a democratic vote and the tree that wins is admired for a few minutes. “It’s just perfect” “Just the right shape” “I love the size”  are some of the appreciative comments murmured as we, satisfied with our choice, self congratulate.

At Boston Christmas Trees the anonymity that represents some places in the city is absent. Tyler knows us! Yearly we give him our family update and if one person is missing, he asks where they are. This year it was “There’s not as many of you this year! Where’s the one that usually films you getting the tree?” That’s Micah and we are missing him as he enjoys his first Christmas as a married man in Phoenix with his in-laws. “How about the one in Egypt?” he says. “We’ll see her next week!” we reply. And the talk goes on. In a most unlikely way, this Christmas Tree business feels like family. They are genuinely interested in who we are and have all the time and patience in the world to chat and participate in this once a year event – Christmas tree shopping.

The tree secured on top of our little car, we head home to decorate, accompanied by eggnog, green and red m&m’s and Mariah Carey belting out “All I want for Christmas is you!” It is a satisfying tradition, made more meaningful through a relationship and connection with our Christmas tree guy.