A Charlie Brown Christmas Tree

I am the kind of person who would rather sit in agony with a bladder that is about to burst than get up and walk across a room full of people to go to the restroom.

I guess some would call me shy, but it’s really only with strangers and large crowds.

Or strangers and small crowds.

Or just strangers.

I am okay with that; not all of us were created to be on center stage.I prefer one to one settings. I’ve kind of backed off from the blog writing because it has often felt like walking through a crowd of strangers.  Even though it’s only a virtual, online crowd of strangers, it still feels odd to have people I don’t know peering into my never-quite-clean windows. Here’s what WordPress told me: About 55,000 tourists visit Liechtenstein every year. This blog was viewed more than 1,500,000 times in 2012. If it were Liechtenstein, it would take about 27 years for that many people to see it. Your blog had more visits than a small country in Europe! In 2012, there were 44 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 56 posts. There were 131 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 63 MB. That’s about 3 pictures per week. That’s a lot of strangers, from 192 countries, according to WordPress. (and did I REALLY post that many pictures?!) Pastors, and musicians and nurses and doctors and stay at home moms and struggling dads and hurting teens and so many others have written.

Don’t get me wrong; I love my family and my life and am not ashamed of sharing who we are…it just feels awkward sometimes to have so many different people looking at me, looking at us and this seems to have impeded me from responding to many of you who have written to me. I feel I have nothing to give in response, that you have mistaken me for someone else, someone bigger and better. But the Lord spoke to me through a Charlie Brown Christmas tree and College Boy, and essentially said “Get over yourself, and get back to writing.” So here I am, telling you about our first Charlie Brown Christmas tree.


There are times when I get up early because I HAVE to and there are the rare seasons when I get up early because I WANT to. For example, hearing the HH rustling around outside our tent in the early hours of a  brisk summer morning, stoking the fire and preparing coffee in the French Press pot, compels me to rapidly dress and head outside despite the fact that the sun hasn’t woken up enough to chase away the nip in the air. I WANT to be up, marveling at the silence and God’s creation and time with that Handsome Husband of mine.

Or days when I knew the HH was returning from a long deployment and I was too excited to sleep, or when children were returning after months away.

I WANTED to be up, making sure everything was “just right” for the homecoming.

Or Christmas time.  Not just Christmas Day but all of the mornings after the tree is up and decorated. Though some of the “magic” of Christmastime tends to disappear as we age (yes, even for those of us who know we are celebrating the greatest Gift of all), I still get the thrill of a child when sitting in a dark room with just the Christmas tree lights casting colorful shadows and The Little Drummer Boy playing on the stereo. I WANT to be up, drinking my hazelnut coffee and singing at the top of my lungs.

The Christmas tree has always been one of my favorite parts of the season, and traditionally the HH has  brought home the biggest, plumpest, most perfectly shaped tree – usually a Noble Fir – that he can find. Then he and the children decorate the tree and I take care of the rest of the house, while oranges and cloves simmer in a pot just waiting to join hands with the smell of fresh tree before pirouetting through the house and sprinkling Christmas scent everywhere. It’s a festive time.

But this year.

Oh, this year.

This year the HH went to the nursery where The Boy With a Cat Named Webster works and decided to do the environmentally responsible thing.  He purchased a tree that had been cut down to clear some crowded forest areas. I almost cried when I saw it.

It was a pygmy tree.

A Charlie Brown, pygmy tree, with gaps and bare spots, and it was just plain ugly, so SHORT it needed its own pygmy stool. When one of my daughters saw it, she too was greatly disappointed. She mumbled something about it being a very fitting tree for the way her 2012 had gone. Another child suggested getting the cat or dog to knock it over so we’d be forced to get another one. College boy said maybe we could get TWO  trees.

But the HH likes to please and so we tried very hard to temper our words and emotions and think positively of our pitiful tree so he wouldn’t feel badly about disappointing us.

The decorations were hung, though with less help than usual and less gusto than in years prior. I mentally counted how many days it would need to be up before we could haul it out of the house. Then a few nights later, College boy glanced up. “Hey, the gaps in the tree allow the lights to be seen better,” he noted. I looked in the corner, at the tree I had been avoiding, and was astonished. He was right.

The best part of the tree has always been those special lights I have written about in the past; the ones we purchased in England two decades ago, the ones with the beautiful patterns of  individual colors slowly fading in and out before transforming into rapid dance of all the colors combined, the lights I wait with bated breath each year to see if they will still work.

And sure enough, the lights were shining brighter than ever. The gaps in the tree allowed the lights in both the front AND back of the tree to be revealed; with our fuller, fatter trees all we could see were the lights on the front.

When I woke up early the next morning, I stumbled in the dark to get my coffee before plugging in the tree lights and my heart nearly burst when I saw the truth: this tiny, pitiful tree with its gaps and flaws, revealed the majesty of the lights better than any tree  we’d had before. I sensed the Holy Spirit whispering a truth to me.  People aren’t coming to my blog to see a great or majestic Marie. I’m just a pygmy, with lots of  character gaps and flaws.  People are coming to see the Light of the World on display. And as proof – when I headed to my e-mail that morning, the e-mails I had also been avoiding, the first thing I saw was a message from Brad, father of 5 boys.  Brad shared how he had stumbled onto my blog and at the end of his e-mail said this: “After reading what you had posted after the movie theater shooting, I was really encouraged to be more “Eternally minded” We only have one life to make  Christ’s name known to our generation, and I wanna say at the end of my days that I did everything I could to win the lost ” 

No, he wasn’t looking for me when he stumbled on my blog, he was looking for a word from the Lord.  Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. Matthew 5:16

May I always, always be a reflection of Him, may I always be seeking more of Him and less of me, because that’s where the true beauty lies. The tree really grew on us, and when I showed it to friends, the gaps and flaws and fact that it was standing on a box didn’t seem so evident. It looked kinda beautiful. Lesson learned. I think we’re gonna go with Charlie Brown trees from now on.

Grateful for this wonderful life,

Marie with a 🙂

13 thoughts on “A Charlie Brown Christmas Tree

  1. Thanks for posting about your Charlie Brown Tree. I had just thought to myself this morning I had not heard from you in a while…..so I am glad to hear from you! You are in my thoughts and prayers. I pray 2013 may be a better year in so many ways, for you and your family, and me and my family as well! Have a Happy New Year! -a sister in Christ

  2. Thank you . . . thank you for being EXACTLY who you are and allowing The Lord to speak THROUGH you . . . Merry Christmas and have a blessed New Year!

  3. As always, your words and perspective on life allows me to grow a bit more. Although I just passed 60, I still feel like a child who is still learning how to live. Thank you!

  4. Marie, Christ uses the most humble humans to display His power. Those who self exalt and manipulate the spotlight end up being destroyed, consumed by it. Look at all those talent show contestants on TV, the entertainers- how they rise and fall in their self effort. Think about it, Christ was publicly humiliated on a cross, naked, and in physical torment with on lookers from all nations, crushed by the dominant Roman empire. And Paul, and Peter, and many who proclaimed the truth, ended up a public spectacle- yet God’s truth spread like wildfire and redeemed many. If Christ can use us, He can be glorified in spite our weakness. I know you did not choose to be in the crosshairs, but Christ is being lifted up and you are a channel, however flawed and weak. May God grant you courage and empathy to stand firm, it is difficult.

  5. I’m so thankful that our LORD Jesus used a pygmy tree to have the “Light” came on & shine a “Light” on the fact that you are a window through which His Light shines! By continuing to share His Light through your blog, His Light will be multiplied many times over! Barucha Ta Adonai!

  6. For 56 years of marriage we had a real, fresh cut Christmas tree. This year, age plus minor infirmity tumbled my resolve. I agreed to an artificial tree ordered from cyber space. My only request, “Please get a good one.” Fed-Ex brought the box. The “tree”? Ouch ugly!!! Blue-green plastic with weird colored lights blinking in rotating patterns that make my former menopausal flashes and child-birth pangs seem almost pleasant. I have tried to say, “Nice”, but the best I could muster is, “Interesting!”

    After all these years it sank in: my husband likes “bling” and I don’t.

    A lifetime of partnership and suddenly I see the consistent pattern. He heads to carnivals and I look for museums. He watches people while I soak up history. He runs to race cars, I revel in opera. He wears colorfully commemorative t-shirts while I match colors. He reads mysteries but is mystified when I study Greek. Yes, he’s the guy, I’m the geek!

    Memory takes me back 58 years. These differences were significantly positive, a major source of strong attraction to each other: really, opposites attracting! Sadly, through the years those opposites led to opposition and separation.

    Yesterday our very academic middle son waxed philosophically about the need to love “the different.” He explained the Greek “eros”, translated into “erotic” love, really means loving that which is the opposite of us. Yes. True.

    Perhaps balance is the secret here. My husband and I stand firmly united in most basics of relationship: faith, family, morality, commitment, home, education, community … Still he is a bling type of guy, and I’m a geek kind of gal. So I say to me, get on with life. Do not focus on “real” vs. a “fake” tree! Christmas is about the birth of Jesus, our Savior. In imperfect harmony but spiritual unity we sing, “joy to the world! The Lord is come.” And we walk together boldly into the new year with the words of Isaiah, “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.” Is.60:1.

  7. There’s a quote that goes something like this: God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the Called. I was always rather quiet, but doing puppetry for God has given me a voice (or voices). Please keep sharing. We appreciate the way God moves in your life, or we wouldn’t be ‘peeking in on you.’ Thank you for sharing.

  8. November 26, 2018
    I so relate to the concern attention from others evokes. I faced a similar challenge and learned the same lesson. I had led several youth mission trips to Mexico and our Mexican church connection hosted a conference while I was visiting them (not on a mission). They had made a complication video of their work among the mountain poor. I happened to appear a few times in the video. Later the head pastor asked me to speak for about 5 minutes on missions and youth. God was with me and people were inspired. Later I was approached by many people for comments, prayer, advice and even photos with the family. At first I was just surprised then I was overwhelmed KNOWING I was so unworthy of this. I went to hide and cry and ask God what was going on. He told me they weren’t attracted to me but to Jesus in me.
    Still learning from this.
    Thanks for sharing your heart and braving this venue to give glory to God.

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