Inspired by a little-known picture book from the pen of Bethany Tudor, this is a diary, of sorts, where I document some of my thoughts, activities, and ideas as I explore the challenges met by the characters in the story: hard work, the care and nurture of others, housekeeping skills, life changes, charity, community, and cooperation, among others. Like Samuel and Samantha, the ducks in the tale, I struggle and succeed, cope and celebrate, work and play, handling the tasks that come my way. I invite you to join me on my journey.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Still Counting: 60 Days

Ten more days have passed since my last banging of the Christmas-countdown gong. The holiday is definitely approaching and preparations have begun, not just at my house but in the stores as well.

This morning while I was waiting for my daughter to finish her combined piano/organ lesson (90 minutes in length), I studied in the library of the Episcopal church where this weekly event occurs. While there, I perused the shelves a bit and found an interesting little book entitled Advent Begins at Home: Family Prayers and Activities for Advent and Christmas. Tucked away in the back of this miniature volume was the following activity under the heading “Tree Decorating and Blessing.”
In order to bless a tree, you should remember that a tree can also bless you. For that to happen you need to come to know the tree. Let all members of the family gather around the tree, before it is decorated, and take a good look at it. If it is a cut tree, look at its trunk and try to tell how old it is --- one ring stands for one year. Count the branches; look closely at the needles; feel them, let them tickle you. Smell the pine scent. You could give the tree some water as one in the family reads this prayer.

O Father and Creator of this most special tree which has come to our family, help us to be ever-mindful to feed and give drink to each other as we now feed and give drink to this tree. Help us to know that we receive life from each other, that we need each other, and that we need most especially to remember each other at this season. Amen.

Next, while the tree is being placed in its stand, the following prayer may be said by the head of the household.

Father and Provider of our home, as we give this tree a home within our house, help us to remember the homeless and the poor at Christmastime. Help us to be ever thankful that we are together as a family and that we shelter each other. Finally help us to make our house a happy home. Amen.

When it is time to decorate your tree and as the first string of lights is placed, one family member may read this prayer.

Jesus, Lord of light, we stand in awe as we take our own part in bringing light to this tree. We know the meaning of you as the Light of the world, but we can never fully understand just how far that light can reach and into how many corners it needs to be brought. Help us this Christmas season not to hide our own lights under bushel baskets, but to shine them before all --- to be radiant, happy, and loving people --- showing forth your light in our very faces. Amen.
Now, I must admit that I have never blessed one of my Christmas trees; in fact, it never even occurred to me to bless my Christmas tree. I always just put it up and kept moving with my holiday preparations. I am also not completely comfortable with the wording of this particular “tree blessing ceremony;” it is a bit too sentimental for my tastes. Yet, the idea of remembering the Lord while putting up a Christmas tree doesn’t seem completely out of line, especially when the tree can symbolize the eternal nature of the Trinity. Whether I actually bless my tree in such a formal way is still under consideration. I may just put it up and say a prayer over it. Either way, the idea is now on my list of things to contemplate when planning my Christmas tree related activities.

How about you, what sort of tree traditions does your family observe?

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