It had been a long day of Christmas shopping with our young children in Monroeville, PA, an hour away from our home.
When we finally pulled into our driveway, it was dark, and I was fried and looking forward to hustling the kids off to bed and relaxing. After we unloaded kids, diaper bags, strollers, coffee cups, MacDonald’s bags and approximately 246 bags of gifts, I unlocked the front door, and saw the sight I least wanted to see at the end of an exhausting day.
A few days earlier, we’d had our family tree trimming party. The cassette player blasted Christmas carols sung by Bing Crosby, the Muppets, John Denver, and Dolly Parton as we drank egg nog and ate coconut macaroons and the kids frantically pulled ornaments from boxes. But before we could hang any on the tree, it was my job to hang the lights.
That was when I had the epiphany. Since the tree was in the corner of our living room, I figured why bother wrapping the lights all the way around the back when no one would see them any way? I could save time by stringing them on the front of the tree. Genius! Back and forth, I hung the lights, like some kind of mad Christmas weaver, on my Christmas tree loom. Plugged em in, and voila! Ready for ornaments.
All was well until that night after shopping when I opened the front door. There was our tree, lying prostrate on the living room floor. Ornaments scattered everywhere. And worst of all, the lights had all fallen off the tree because of my genius idea not to wrap them around it.
As I stood there in shock, I noticed little Stephen (around age 4) staring up at me wide-eyed, waiting for my reaction. Fortunately God gave me grace not to shout “This is just great!” like I wanted to. After a few seconds, I recovered enough to say, “Praise God, the tree fell down. Gotta put the lights back on.”
As I stood the tree up, and (this time) secured it to the wall with twine, and (this time) wrapped the lights around back, little Stephen kept chanting gleefully, “Praise God, the tree fell down! Praise God, gotta put the lights back on!” Arrgghh! Help me Lord!
He did. He helped me cheerfully rehang the lights. And he helped me to show my kids, in a small imperfect way, how to rejoice always.