“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.” Ephesians 1:7-8
Yesterday, I finally took down our Christmas tree. What do you think it says about us that we got our tree up about five days before Christmas and took it down about five weeks after it. On second thought, don’t answer that!
2011 was an odd year. I don’t mean strange, I mean odd — as in not even. In our house, this is significant. It means that next year our tree will have NO GARLAND because it will be my wife’s turn to rule over the tree decorating. She gets the even years. Our tree will be what I call a “designer tree”. It will be beautiful and orderly — a tree of which Martha Stewart would undoubtedly approve.
However, I prefer the tree to be more . . . festive. I like to overwhelm the tree with multitudes of decorations and then saturate the whole thing with a thick layer of tinsel. I like it to look like a veritable volcano of color and sparkle — a Yuletime Mount St. Helens. Unfortunately, the next eruption will not be until 2013.
This breach of unity in our marriage has existed for over thirty years. The children, who are now grown, have all sided with their mother (presumably because of the inordinate corrupting influence she has had over them as fellow females). But like any good attorney, I am appealing to a higher court — the court of public opinion — where half of the jury is composed of males that might have as little taste as me.
So here is my “plea for the tree”. I begin with an admission (always a risky tactic). The Susan tree is prettier. But now a quick and decisive counterpoint via the rhetorical question: Is beauty really what we are going for here? I say, “No way, Jose!”
I submit that a Christmas tree, like any work of art, expresses something. Now beauty and order are not BAD things to express, but I suggest that there is something here greater than beauty and order! I contend that a gauche, over-the-top Christmas tree is a more holy tree because it better captures the ridiculously generous abundance .of the gracious gift that we celebrate. I submit that we should lavish on our poor, humble tree a super abundance of decorations to commemorate how on that first Christmas God lavished mercy and grace on us poor, humble sinners. In short, our tree should be over-the-top because Christmas is over-the-top.
Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, you have listened to the evidence. You have heard the arguments. I ask for . . . nay, I demand, your verdict on behalf of my client, that gaudy gusher of garland, that chaotic cornucopia of Christmas color, that effusive eruption of everything exuberant– the Cleve tree! I am sure you will all do your duty!
P.S. In the last few years, I have learned to be slightly more sensitive to how I tend to make jokes at my wife’s expense. Thus, I should make it clear that no one better appreciates nor is more in favor of expressing the abundance of unmerited grace we have received at Christ’s expense than my wife. She just doesn’t like garland. Beyond that, this whole story is an example of the use of a common rhetorical device — pure exaggeration.