I decorated two Christmas trees this year. The taller, more elegant of the two stands in the corner of the parsonage living room. It shimmers in mostly golds and reds with only a few of the ornaments that adorned our trees when the children were still at home. It's lovely, and everyone will say so, especially when the lights are lit. The other tree stands in the vestibule of the church next door. It stands a mere six feet and isn't terribly striking. I bought it at Big Lots for twenty-nine dollars, so that's to be expected I suppose. But of the two trees, I suspect the lesser one will be the favorite.
For hiding among its boughs are kiddie cars, tonka toys and little metal lunch pails. Charlie Brown and Snoopy are hanging with Winnie the Pooh and his buds, Piglet and Tigger. The Warner Brothers gang are there with the likes of Bugs Bunny, Sylvester the Cat and Tweetie Bird. And there are the assorted Disney characters including the timeless Mickey and Minnie with their dog Pluto. Bambi and his mother are nestled there, and our favorite Little Mermaid shares a special place with Aladdin's big blue Genie. Scooby Doo and Shaggy are in close proximity to the more cultured Jo, Beth, Amy and Meg of Little Women fame. Little Toot and Madeline represent the children's classics along with the Cat in the Hat, that despicable but lovable Grinch and Sam with his green eggs and ham. And there are Santas and toys and toboggans and sleds and children peering into Christmas shop windows. These are the things that my children loved and I loved before them.
There is another tree set up in the church. It sits at the front of the sanctuary midst the greenery, red ribbons and wreathes which adorn walls and windows. It is decorated with lovely balls of red and gold and silver stars. The garland sits perfectly on this tree, all in perfect rows. But no gifts will lie under its branches.
Special gifts for children in need go under the "lesser" tree, and somehow it seems fitting that it should have the honor. For this tree brings delight and laughter to children and joyful memories to one such as I. That is why I no longer hang these ornaments on my own tree for private viewing. There are memories to be shared, and sometimes words are not necessary. Simply to see the eyes of the children as they ooh and aah and discover the special treasures between the branches is enough. Then I am back with my own children, reading Green Eggs and Ham, singing along with The Little Mermaid and laughing at the antics of favorite cartoon characters. There can't possibly be any greater gift than that.