Ever had an ugly Christmas tree? I mean, even the prettiest of ornaments could not cover the scraggly, lopsided, double-topped stick that Grandpa dragged home from the woods the year the crops were bad and our household was on a Christmas budget that did not allow for a “bought” blue spruce from the neighbor’s tree farm. Grandma whined, but, the tree went up as usual in the living room’s front window for all passersby to see. The saddest thing about that tree was that no amount of thrown tinsel and no arrangement of the strings of lights could justify calling that smattering of pine branches a Christmas tree.
The lights in those days were the kind that would heat to an unsafe level making it necessary to sit in the room at all times when they were plugged in. I often wondered what fun it would be to watch that burning bush being scooted out the front door. My imagination envisioned Grandpa, a diminutive man, in the aftermath of the tree fire, being scolded by his 250 pound spouse and being chased with a broom about the house much as I had seen in my favorite cartoons on TV.
We have made great advances in the season’s lighting options. Neighbors vie to present the most impressive outdoor light show in festive colors and themes. The lights rock and bounce to the rhythm of the accompanying Christmas tunes much to the delight of young and old merrymakers who wind around the streets in a procession of vehicles. Bulbs of the led variety shine brightly and safely on artificial trees which are often equipped with those strings of lights at the factory source. Pre-lit is the tree shopper’s buzz word.
All colors, all shapes, all lengths of lights to choose from and all wonderfully convenient….when they all work. Yes, every American male knows what I’m saying. Long, irreverent hours are spent checking each of the 2500 bulbs on the string of lights trying to determine which one is not properly plugged in causing the entire circuit to remain unlit. We sit on the floor muttering about that smug, smiling, underpaid factory worker in China who assembled this mass of wires and bulbs knowing that somewhere in America a befuddled man will be sitting teary-eyed on his living room floor holding his string of 2500 unlit lights. Often, we head to the WalMart for another cheap string of lights rather than endure the frustration of trying to fix the unfixable.
Perhaps that is the answer to our dilemma. None of these ornaments and lights purchased today were ever intended to give long-term enjoyment. They are not going to become heirlooms for the grandchildren to enjoy as are my beautiful icicles, glass Santas, and stars which my grandmother purchased at the local 5 and 10 cent store almost 100 years ago. Today’s mass-produced ornaments “Made in China” will probably not find a very special place in the grandkids’ hearts or on their Tannenbaums. Like many of us, the decorations are seen as conveniently disposable.
I don’t believe that God cares much about lights that don’t work or ornaments that end up in landfills. But, I know God does not make disposable people. Each life is a valuable heirloom to be cherished and held dearly in our hearts. God does not see undocumented visitors/workers as illegal people. They are his children who have legal status in his kingdom. God does not make worthless people. Each has immeasurable worth in his eyes. God is not about fancy glass ornaments, expensive presents, and bright lights. God is that small glow within that lights the world.
“This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine this Christmas season.”