'Twas the week before Christmas
When atop Smid hill
A small tree, bundled on the porch,
Just could not fit the bill.
“It’s far too small,” Dad lamented,
“Why, it’s barely a shrub!
But it’s all Lowe’s had,” his holiday
Spirit withered to a nub.
Every year 'til now, sons at his side
He’d gone north, head held high
To Bubba’s Mountain Tree Farm
Where ancient trees touched the sky.
Hiking steep hills, through briar and thorn,
Braving wind and hail and cold,
With chainsaw in hand and heavy work gloves:
A manly tradition, now a dozen years old.
They tracked it as one would a prize-winning buck,
Their motto: the bigger, the better the tree!
Hours passed as they walked the thick woods,
Faces glowing with anticipatory glee.
Once felled, it was dragged across the fields
To the sturdy sleigh – er, Jetta – below.
Now to lift it high upon the roof and pray
That the winding drive home will be slow.
But this year, Bubba had just sold the farm,
Leaving us treeless as December came.
The former tree farmer, once lively and quick,
Now, felled by gout, was all but lame.
“But our family tradition!” one son cried,
“Now Christmas just won’t be the same!”
The shock of grief was taking its toll
And only two weeks 'til Christmas remained.
But like a sweet Santa (complete with white beard)
Who wanted to make dreams come true,
Bubba made Dad a generous offer:
“Here’s what I’ll do for you:”
“I’ll call the new owner, and see what he says
About you cutting a tree, for old times’ sake.”
But as a week passed with no call from Bubba,
We had a hard decision to make.
So, resigned to our fate, Dad headed south
To purchase an evergreen tree.
Still reeling with shock, he headed to Lowe’s:
This is how Christmas would have to be.
“It’s just a shrub,” he phoned me to say,
“It’s no more than seven feet tall.
It will be dwarfed by our high ceilings.
It will hardly be noticed at all.”
Trying to cheer him, I told him my plan:
“It will make up for the lack of height
If we set it on our end table” –
So a tabletop tree went up that night.
The next day, Bubba’s call finally came:
The owner had agreed!
To let them come and search the woods
And cut down our Christmas tree!
“Too bad that we already have one,”
I said, forgetting to whom I spoke.
As visions of 20-foot trees danced in their heads,
I realized that this was no joke.
Just a few details, Bubba explained:
The locked fence meant they’d have to bring
The tree to the road, just a half mile or so,
Oh – and just one more small thing:
A mountain lion’s been on the loose;
The new owner is hunting it down.
So best to wear bright colors when they go
Just in case a hunter and wildcat are ‘round.
Bubba’s report of a roaming beast
And the landowner armed in hot pursuit
Did nothing to dissuade Dad and son
From making their dream come true.
After roaming the snow-covered hill
With chainsaw and tape measure in hand,
Dad called out, “Come look!
This one is tall! And even! And grand!”
So son hiked back to check Dad’s find,
A katana across each shoulder –
(The mountain lion story had bothered him
And the blades made him feel bolder).
With a sputter and a whir, the saw leapt to life,
Slicing through the trunk with ease.
Alas for Dad, it fell forward not back,
And so he dove into neighboring trees!
They manfully wrapped the 15-footer
In an old blue tarp and some twine,
Trundled it down the snow-covered hill;
Santa’s sleigh couldn’t have done it that fine!
They tied it to the Jetta rooftop,
Maneuvered south on mountain roads,
Arrived home and dragged it up the walkway
Where Dad and son took a break from the load.
“I’m tired” Dad said. “It can wait one more day.
It’s hard work hauling that tree.”
“So what about the 7-foot shrub?” I asked.
He smiled. “Someone can take it for free!”
Much to my surprise, a friend with a fake tree
Was eager to welcome our “shrub.”
So, channeling their inner elves,
Dad and son drove it to her sub(division).
The next night, both true to their word,
They shoved the monster tree through the door
Set it in its stand, lashed it to the wall,
Then stood back, with great pride, to adore.
“It’s so straight!” Dad cried, “the branches so even!
And it’s much greener than any tree we’ve had!”
And son, neck tilted back, surveying the scene,
Couldn’t help but agree with his dad.
Mountain men, mountain lions, katanas and shrubs
Make for a happy Christmas tree story,
And yet, our deepest happiness comes
From the real Christmas story – God’s glory -
In the gift of the Savior! Jesus Christ, His Son,
Through every season, we can trust His name.
Whether our traditions succeed or fail,
Our hope in God remains the same.
For His name is Emmanuel! God with us!
His life given for ours, once and for all!
An evergreen gift, an everlasting joy:
Our God has come to us, come as a baby, so very small.