Column: Picking the right Christmas tree – Worthington Daily Globe
Worthington Minnesota 300 11th Street / P.O. Box 639 56187
When I was a kid, it was always a huge deal to go with Dad and pick out our Christmas tree. My sisters and I would pile into the car, and we’d drive — not to the nearest Christmas tree farm or even pre-cut lot (there were none on the island where I lived) — but rather to wherever it was that Dad deemed best to cut down a tree that year. Some years we had permission from friends or acquaintances to cut any tree we chose as a way to help thin out their overgrown woods, but other years I’m pretty sure that Dad just stopped at a likely place and hoped for the best.
The particulars of choosing a tree were very important. It had to be tall enough to look good in our cathedral-ceilinged living room. (I’m thinking 15 feet was our average.) And it had to have branches that were spaced far enough apart so that the ornaments could hang nicely without touching the branches below. Even though Mom wasn’t with us as we cut the tree, her exact requirements rang loudly in our ears.
There was one year when Dad thought he had found the perfect specimen. The tree was tall, and its branches were spaced on the trunk in such a way that every single one of Mom’s ornaments would hang freely. My sisters and I weren’t so sure, but it wasn’t really up to us.
We brought the tree home on the roof of our station wagon, its tip extending far past the windshield. Dad and my oldest sister carried it into the house where it was placed into a five-gallon bucket of wet sand.
Mom came to inspect and about keeled over in shock. Her requirements had been met, there was no doubt about that. The tree had a good 15 inches between each layer of branches. It was tall and narrow and resembled a ladder with one side missing.
It looked a lot worse inside than it had in the frozen swamp where we’d found it.
Dad was proud that he’d found Mom the perfect tree for her requirements. Mom was never quite so adamant about her requirements again.
Isn’t it funny how our expectations — our requirements — about God can fail us? We all have ideas of who God is, which are dependent upon many things, such as our upbringing, our personal histories, our father images, or our views of religion. With those ideas come expectations that tarnish or at least mold our ideas of what God is like and how He will behave.
But the truth is, God will do whatever he wants whether we agree with Him or not. He is not tied to our expectations. He doesn’t think the way we do. But we can always trust Him to do what is best. We can always trust Him to, in essence, “pick the right Christmas tree.” Even if that tree seems absurd at the time.
“Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; His greatness no one can fathom.” Psalm 145:3
Gretchen O’Donnell is a freelance writer who lives in rural Worthington with her husband and three children. She has a master’s degree from Bethel Seminary and enjoys writing about the things she sees and applying theological truths to everyday situations. Her column, The Disheveled Theologian, runs twice monthly.