Hold everything earthly with a loose hand, but
grasp eternal things with a deathlike grip.
Read Mark 8:36,37


Tree, Tree, Everywhere a Tree
Ok it is official now, Christmas is on the way. How do I know this for sure? Yesterday I got out the Christmas decorations at my house and decorated. My grandchildren, four boys, are living with me now so to opt to not put up a tree isn't an option. As I matter of fact I ended up opting to put up several.
I got out the first tree, artificial of course, no real trees this year, it is the pre-lit easy version that I bought last year. Next, I got out the tree I had before the new one, the one I used for about ten years or so. I couldn't bear to throw it away when I got the new one. So, what can I say? It was there. What good is a tree in a box? I got it out and put it up too. Next came out the small 3 ft white tree with red decorations, Even though it is kind of dusty in places, not as white as it once was,  and some of the glass red decorations are now broken, it is special because my son and I bought it one year during the local Christmas parade. Of course, the special tree had to go up.
 Next, I pulled out the old, old, old 3 ft green tree I had about 25 years ago when all the kids were at home.  No question about it, we had to find a place for it. Final the fiber optic 2 ft tree which once belonged to my mother made its way out of the closet. The boys voted. It was unanimous we had to find a place for "Mammy's tree" as well.
I  put them all up one by one. The boys of course helped.  All the decorations on the big trees were on the bottom half on branches that were within their reach. I knew I would redo later when the kids were asleep. This brought back memories of doing this long ago with my children grabbing and fussing over who got to hang which colored ornament where.  I smiled.
The old, old, old tree has a special place this year. I put it in the room where the younger boys sleep.  They thought it was very special when I told them it used to be in their dad's room every year when he was a little boy.
Caden, who is five, was especially excited about putting up the trees, not just putting them up, but wanting to put them up quickly. He kept saying, "Hurry Mamaw!" After we were done, I found out why he wanted to hurry. As the last decorations were placed on the last tree, Caden said to his dad, "Ok, now let's go to Wal-Mart and get presents."
I was a little disappointed.  I thought I finally had someone who got the "tree joy" like me with no presents necessary. 
What about you? Have you got it yet...you know, the tree joy, I guess aka as Christmas joy, no presents necessary?  If not get to unpacking those decorations and gathering children around to help. What good is a tree in a box? Hurry up! As you unpack, remember where you were when you first saw these decorations or that one.  Amongst all the dusty tinsel, hooks, and broken glass there is a smile just for you waiting to be unpacked. Yes, the Christmas tree seems to be the starting point of a lot of joyful memories doesn't it?
So, was Caden's only joy in the hope of getting presents? Did he not have any true tree joy?  This story has a  true joyous ending.  Later in the evening, after all, decorating was done.  Caden's mom came by to pick him up.  The children all were telling her tree stories when Caden ran out of the room. In a few moments, Caden was back walking very carefully,  gripping the old, old,old 3ft decorated tree from his room.  He said, "Look this is my tree!" He held it tightly and didn't lose a single ornament on the trip from room to room.

I guess Caden truly got true tree joy after all.  He no longer saw it just as a starting point to get some presents.
This Christmas there will be a lot of joy.  Some joy will come from buying presents.  Some joy will come from wrapping presents. Some will come from placing them under the tree. Some joy will come watching presents we give be opened and some will come opening some we receive. Yes, that indeed sounds like a whole bunch of joy which seems to all be centered around a tree doesn't it?  This joy is real.  It is the kind of joy that makes some good memories and gives us some good material things we can hold on to for a while that do make us happy.
But before all this joy is experienced around a tree, make sure you first grab on to the true joy of Christmas, where it all began in the first place and hold on to it really tightly. Where, or I should ask Who is that place? Jesus Christ is Christmas. Without Him there is no joy, no matter how many trees or presents there may be.  He brings true eternal joy.   Never let Him go.