Advent Devotions 2020

Trimming the Tree with Stories

Posted by Sheryl A. Tippitt-Bates on

When they had heard the king, they departed, and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, ‘til it came and stood over where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. Matthew 2: 9-10  

As a small child, growing up, my brother, my cousin (whom I always felt was like a sister), and myself would all get super excited when dear old dad would haul the Christmas tree upstairs into the living room. Our anticipation would build even more when my dad, the electrician by trade, would have to check out each string of lights for missing, broken, or burned-out bulbs. Each one of us would debate on who would get chosen to "plug 'em in." Of course it seemed like there were a thousand tiny twinkling lights all working before we could start winding and threading them on and all through our tree. 

Next would be the meticulous and careful handling and hanging of the glass ornaments my mom had collected through the years. They always seemed to give the tree a special theme called "family." Some were heirloom ornaments that had been given to my parents by our grandparents and others before them. Other ornaments were childlike keepsakes consisting of colored paper, aluminum foil, twine or yarn twisted into shapes, yet they were all masterpieces made by the tiny hands of children.  

Now, my mom was the supervisor of this stage of decorating the tree, and so the storytelling would begin of each ornament and its origin, as we would carefully hang them on the branches. All of us kids just loved to hear why each one belonged on our family tree. 

Alas! It was time to turn off the ceiling lights to see our finished tree, but NO!  WE had forgotten the MOST important decoration for our tree. My daddy had bought the most beautiful white shiny star tree topper to adorn our tree. He was the tallest, so he got that job of placing it on top and plugging it in with all the lights. He went on to tell us this star is what alerted the world that baby Jesus was born. It helped to shine the way for the wise men to find the stable with Mary, Joseph, and the babe. 

Well, now we would turn off the room lights and stand back to check out our teamwork and there it was, just breathtaking, yet heartwarming knowing that the Christmas season had just begun at our home. Usually at that time, my dad would get his 8-track tape deck out and start playing tapes of Christmas carols. Mom would serve some hot chocolate or eggnog and some sweet Christmas cookies. The twinkling on and off of the tree lights seemed like magic through our eyes as children, and I still get that same rush of excitement today when a Christmas tree is lit up, especially, if there is a bright shining star resting on top.

As I start to decorate our Christmas tree each year, many of these fond memories flood my mind, while I am checking and placing lights, arranging the ornaments, especially those made by the hands of my children through their years of Sunday school, day care or public school. That shining star on the top always leads me back to the story my dad always told us of our Saviors' miraculous birth. Happy Birthday, Baby Jesus!  Merry Christmas, dear friends. May the light of Jesus always shine on your paths of life, forever.

Dear Heavenly Father, help us to always be in search of the light of your love that will always guide and protect us. May this Christmas season become a beacon of light to lead us through the dark and difficult times which have clouded our lives in recent days, weeks, and months. May each of trust and know that YOU are waiting for us, ahead. 

-Sheryl Tippitt Bates


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