Monthly Archives: December 2013

From Snow To Sawdust: Where Angels Trod

The official Snow Day notification came at 5:56 a.m. Friday via a school district phone call. A couple inches had fallen in the early morning hours, kicking off Winter Break one day early. While I’m not one to venture out for a run in slick, slippery conditions, it promised to be an action-packed day, so I decided to try and get it done early. As I headed out in my oversized, Rocky-inspired sweats, I was immediately struck by the quiet, peaceful conditions. I was the only one out on the roads, my footprints leaving the first marks on the snow-covered sidewalks. It was not slick or slippery, in fact, it was powdery, light and delicate. I continued past houses with Christmas lights still on, in the morning darkness they cast a beautiful glow across the peaceful surroundings. I kept running, slowly, almost mesmerized by the beauty. I was thankful for the serenity and the solitude; it was quite different from some of the chaos I’d created for myself in prior days. Like desperately ordering a Seahawks jersey online — quite possibly from overseas, I’m still not sure — and wondering not only if it would arrive for Christmas, but if at all. But that snowy, quiet morning I was able to let go of all of that. That slow, steady run through the stillness helped me to focus on the simplicity of Christmas that had somewhat fallen by the wayside.

That evening, our church opened the doors to the Bethlehem village we’d created. Through building, painting, sewing, creating, and a variety of talents and resources, we worked together to help bring the birthplace of Jesus to life Friday through Monday nights and for a large part of the day Christmas Eve. Families don robes and costumes to tend blacksmith, pottery, jewelry shops and more. Roman soldiers saunter. Animals bellow. Visitors roam the sawdusty streets and are taken back to a long-ago time.

My family and I worked there last night in the stone-cutting shop, where folks decorate their own stone with an inspirational word, name or picture. An older gentleman hung back a bit as kids worked on their designs. He then moved to the front and carefully took his time selecting a stone from our wooden bowl. He didn’t want to design it, he simply wanted to take it with him. We chatted briefly and then he stepped away, toward the temple and live nativity. I wondered, Was he alone? With family? Was he missing someone? As he left, I thought I noticed a far-off look in his eyes. Maybe even a few tears. “This is quite a celebration,” he said.

From that quiet, snowy run to the sawdust-covered streets of Bethlehem and the simple words of a stranger, I was reminded this weekend that, as we get ready for Christmas, Angels still do tread here. Heaven often meets earth — when we just take the time to look around, we can see it, and we can feel it.

This IS quite a celebration.

Merry Christmas.

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The Christmas (Tree) Miracle

Hope

Two weeks ago, on the first Sunday of Advent, my mom, along with my husband Mo, the boys and I visited a Christmas tree farm about six miles away. The mood was jovial and light; we perused trees and searched leisurely. There was none of the animosity that sometimes accompanied trips in the past, like “That one’s too fat. That’s too tall. I don’t like that one. We need a fatter one. We need a taller one” and so on. We soon reached a unanimous agreement, began to cut and yelled “timber.” We were extra-pleased because it had a long trunk, which would make for easy placement in the stand. My 10-year-old grabbed one end, with Mo carrying the other, and we made our way to the check-out area to have it shaken and wrapped. Mo went to fetch the car and returned moments later.

“My ring is gone,” he said.

Somewhere along the way, during the trek back with the tree, it appeared that his wedding band had slipped off.

“It’s because I’m so skinny,” he commented (which, I mentioned, is not something a mid-forty-year-old female necessarily wants to hear after a long weekend of eating Thanksgiving leftovers.)

We returned to our tree’s stump and retraced our steps. Several times. We looked and we looked. We couldn’t find it.

A strange feeling settled over me.

“After sixteen years….” Mo said.

I left my name and number with the lady who worked there, but felt disappointed and dejected.

The engraved ring that was blessed on our wedding day, was gone.

Upon returning home, we looked online for some replacements. Mo was excited about some of the modern choices and styles to choose from. We checked out titanium and tungsten. I even suggested that he get my name tattooed on his finger, so as not to have the same problem in the future. But we didn’t order one, and Mo returned to work the next day without a wedding band.

After the tree was decorated and trimmed that week my 10-year-old declared,
“It’s the most beautiful tree we’ve ever had.”

Again, the feeling was unanimous.

However, a few nights ago, my mom pointed out a dark spot somewhere in the middle of the tree. Upon further inspection, I discovered that a whole string of lights was out, so I bought some new ones over the weekend.

Joy

Last night, the third Sunday of Advent, as Mo prepared lasagna, my five-year-old built a “bouncy house” out of every cushion and pillow imaginable, and my mom observed from her perch on the couch, I finally set about the task of replacing the lights. I carefully removed about fifteen ornaments and gently placed them on the leather loveseat for safekeeping, and removed the entire dead string from the middle of the tree. Slowly, I replaced it with a new set, plugging each end into the ones that already hung on the tree. Never before had I replaced an entire string. After mom’s helpful direction from the comfort of the couch, “You’ve got a dark spot there….” I was done.

I went to the loveseat to retrieve Nutcrackers, glass balls, Santa and bulb-shaped ornaments and began hanging them in the bare areas. With a few more to go, something caught my eye in the loveseat, below the ornaments. It was small and round. It almost looked like it glowed from the lights of the tree.

I could not believe my eyes.

“Mo…” I hollered.

“What?” he called from his lasagna-making duties.

“Mo!!!!” I said, a bit more emphatically.

I ran to the kitchen, clutching his gold wedding band.

“Look!!!”

We both stared in disbelief.

“Will you marry me?” I asked, as I slipped it on his finger (and suggested getting it sized since he’s so skinny.)

He, my mom and I laughed, marveled and shook our heads.

Somehow, the gold band had slipped off at the tree farm, gotten nestled into the eight-foot tree, withstood being shaken by a machine and then survived the six-mile drive home atop the car. Somehow, after removing a whole string of dead lights and over a dozen ornaments, it made its way to the loveseat, just waiting to be discovered.

The simple, gold engraved band, that was blessed on our wedding day, has returned to its rightful home.

“It’s the most beautiful tree we’ve ever had.”

I couldn’t agree more.