The M & M’s of Life My Holiday Hallmark Movie “Allergic to the Christmas Tree”
Make Your Life Matter No Matter What
I’m a sucker for Holiday Hallmark movies. If you live outside the United States, these are sappy love stories luring hopeless romantics with the promise of nostalgia and a happy ending. I’m clearly aware that the plot is set to “repeat,” with a girl – usually from a big city – meeting some small town boy in a place called something akin to Wonderland Lodge. Sparks begin to fly, only to be interrupted by the boyfriend who wants none of the Christmas spirit. Alas! Our heroine discovers she does want to live in a one-stoplight town where everyone knows your name after all! In this idyllic setting, Christmas isn’t complete without hot chocolate, ice skating and a snowball fight. And every movie ends exactly the same way: our star-crossed couple kiss in the moonlight. Or under the mistletoe. Or in a horse-drawn sleigh. Or at the company Christmas party. Or in the snow-laden cottage. You get the jist.
These predictable movies deliver on one thing: warm, fuzzy feelings dunked in eggnog and wrapped with a shiny, red bow.
Yet real life is anything but predictable.
This year I decided to star in my own Hallmark movie. My family unwittingly became cast in supporting roles. Festive wreaths decked every door and red poinsettia napkin holders handcrafted by my Grandma Sallie donned my dinner table. A frosted tree with movable ornaments was placed center table. Garland wrapped itself around the banister and snowmen found new homes on bathroom counters. Snow globes…nativity sets…stockings and reindeer. And the piece de resistance? The Christmas tree.
Not just any tree – a freshly cut blue spruce, lovingly chosen at our favorite tree lot as our breath filled the crisp, December air. We stopped for hot chocolate on the way home while the tree clung to the top of the car with burlap string. We decorated her branches while we dined on eggs and bacon and homemade cider. Christmas carols rang in the background as the kids snapped photos of the ornaments made by tinier hands in years gone by. I climbed into bed relishing the scenes that fit nicely into my Hallmark film.
Eight hours later, I reached over to turn off my morning alarm only to discover I was nursing a pounding headache and swollen eyes. My nose ran and my throat burned. “UGHHHHHH,” I thought to myself. “The tree…I’m allergic to the tree. Give it a day. I’m sure my symptoms will subside once the fragrance diminishes.” By Day 3, I realized the inevitable: either the tree had to move or I did. I studied every ornament my family had carefully placed on the tree and started the unthinkable: I took every single one off and laid them on the stairs. I begged my husband and son to find a new home for our precious tree on the deck outside. “At least I can see the Christmas lights through the kitchen window,” I whimpered. I proceeded to carry the white, fake tree from the basement (fully decorated I might add), up the steps so at least we’d have a tree somewhere prominent. The tree separated into sections, ornaments crashing to the floor and the base breaking in two.
I plopped down on the basement steps to pick up broken pieces of a glass snowflake. “Where’s the ice skating rink? The horse-drawn sleigh? The homemade mittens made by Aunt Sarah who also makes the best cookies this side of Denver?” My heart sank. Nope. Just a harried mom trying to gather the remnants of a fallen-apart fake tree because she’s the poster child for Allegra. At this point, I may or may not have shed a couple tears.
As I made my coffee this morning, I peered out the kitchen window and saw our 25-year-old collection of family ornaments hanging on our tree atop the deck. I glanced into the living room and smiled at the replacement impostor, held together by super glue and ingenuity.
And that, folks, is real life.
Sometimes scripts don’t read the way we write them. Sometimes families fight and turkeys burn and moms are allergic to the Christmas tree. Sometimes the best of intentions go awry and disappointment gets unwrapped alongside Legos and Bluetooth speakers. Sometimes the only predictable plot is the one that includes the unpredictable.
Two years ago, I visited a little town called Bethlehem. I knelt down and traced the star with my fingers. In this humble place, the most unpredictable story was written. A King would be born – not in a palace or filmed by Hollywood – but in an obscure cave witnessed by lowly shepherds. A scared, young girl named Mary and her husband, Joseph welcomed the Savior of the world surrounded by sheep and feeding troughs. Unexpected. Uninvited. Unplanned. Unprepared. Undone. Yet exactly what God intended.
Sometimes our undone moments are God’s intended miracles.
If you want to “Make Your Life Matter No Matter What” this Christmas, embrace the joy of the unpredictable. When life isn’t turning out exactly like you planned (and really, when does it ever), look for the miracle in the mess. Life is messy. Sometimes the kids don’t want to come home for the holidays and hearts shatter like glass snowflakes. Sometimes, like for my husband, bodies crash and the new year will be rung in with a knee replacement. Sometimes, death steals a loved one and Christmas seems hollow.
Yet, somewhere in the mess, God births a miracle. He gives forgiveness to bear disappointment, strength to bear adversity, and grace to bear heartache.
I pray this Christmas season reminds us once again that because He came into our unpredictable mess, we have hope. I pray His immeasurable love reaches into your impossible situation and breathes new life into fragile, wounded places. And I pray you’re not allergic to your Christmas tree.
From our crazy, messed up family to yours, Merry Christmas.
Looking for a last minute gift? Purchase a custom, handcrafted necklace from Kenya and 100% of the profits benefit deprived Pastor’s wives. I’ll include “Finding Tranquility” FREE with every purchase made by December 18 and you’ll receive it by Christmas! Shop Now