"Never worry about the size of your Christmas tree. In the eyes of children, they are all 30 feet tall." ~ Larry Wilde
While putting up our Christmas tree yesterday, our dog, MacDoodle, (who is celebrating his eighth birthday this week) sat and watched for a few minutes as we began hanging the decorations and then, as if utterly bored and losing all interest, curled up and took a nap. I smiled as I had an instant flashback to seven Christmas' ago when that wasn't the case. At that time Mac was still a puppy; a one-year-old, seventy-pound bouncing ball of fur who had more energy and curiosity than most young children. That being his first Christmas, he was beyond delighted with the numerous possibilities that lie waiting for him in all of the new sights, colors and fragrances; he was ecstatic--and we had not yet begun put up the Christmas tree. In an instant, Diane and I had a shared vision of what our home would look like with a fallen Christmas tree and ornaments spread throughout every room in the house, and we began laughing. Time for plan B.
We decided to buy a small three and a half-foot tree and place it on a table out of Mac's reach and, I am happy to report, it went well. However, I have to admit; it took a few days to get used to having a tabletop tree. Traditionally we have always placed our gifts under the tree, but that year there was no room on the table to do so. In its diminutive size, the tree just didn't quite feel as "Christmasy." It surely didn't measure up to the magnificent trees I had enjoyed over the years, and I was beginning to think I would be missing the grandeur of the Christmas "feeling" in our home. It was then that I began to consider the deeper meaning and purpose of having presents and a tree at all. After some self-inquiry, the awareness that came to me was that it isn't really about the size or location of the tree. Irrespective of its stature and where we place it in our home, the Christmas tree, with its beautiful trimmings and bright lights, is an external reminder of an internal and eternal truth about a gift that has already been given and received. The gift is that of life itself and, more so, the awareness of the birth of Divine Love being manifest in the world. The Christmas tree is a beautiful way to "remember to remember" that the ultimate gift is love and the many ways in which we share it with others (including our beloved pets).
In his well-known Christmas letter, Dr. Ernest Holmes wrote: "Christmas is for remembrance. The love manifesting through our gifts to each other typifies the offering of Life, the givingness of Spirit to its creation. The hands of the Eternal are outstretched through our hands and the heart of the Infinite beats in the human breast. But the giver must give of himself, for 'The gift without the giver is bare.' It is not, then, in lavish gifts that we find true giving but in the sweet simplicity of remembrance, in the kindly thought, the tolerant mind and the gentle act. Love alone can give love, sympathy alone can sympathize and only goodness can really do or be good. When heart speaks to heart, a divine conversation has taken place, a heavenly discourse. Each of us has something to give. Let each see that he gives of his best. If we are bringing our gifts to the altar of love, nothing less than the best will be acceptable, nothing less than all is enough. May the real spirit of Christmas ~ the giving of self to life enter and abide in you now and through all time."
I am grateful that Mac Doodle came into my life those many years ago because he helped me remember that when it comes to Christmas trees, the size of the tree and the material gifts we place under it really don't matter. The gifts that matter the most can't be wrapped and they don't need to go under a tree. Perhaps the most significant present any of us can give this year is our presence, our compassion, our time, our respect, our generosity of spirit and, most importantly, our remembrance that it is the Love born this season we celebrate. Each time you look at a Christmas tree, may you be aware that life, even with its many challenges, is inherently good; the real gift is the life you've been given. How you share that gift with your world is the gift you give back to the Divine One. Love is the way.
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