It shows up every year, some time in early December. Out of the dust-covered box lying dormant on the dirty garage floor, buried under loads of other dusty boxes, untouched for eleven months. When it first appeared in the middle of our living room, years ago, my husband and I were newly married, young and quite naïve. At the time, our lives were simple and our furniture few. Happy and ignorant, we went out to shop one of those after-Christmas clearance sales. We came back home jubilant, hauling in the biggest Christmas tree we could afford. The tree was beautiful and tall. When put together branch by branch, it filled at least a half of our living room, imposing its glorious presence on all this empty space. We loved our tree.
Then, a friend gave us his old TV because he was moving to Australia. Later on, we bought an armoire to accommodate our newly-acquired TV and a matching stand to hold our collection of CDs and VCRs (DVDs were not invented yet). Over the years, we kept accumulating more and more stuff – a DIY project here, and a curb-side mall find there; then came our first child with all his accompanying paraphernalia and soon afterward, another with all the mentioned paraphernalia of a different, she color. So, bit by bit, mountain by mountain stuff kept marching across our doorstep. The stuff we needed, or thought we or somebody we knew needed or might need some day kept ringing our doorbell. Slowly but surely, our huge house started filling up all its empty places, obliterating the memory of the simple life we once used to live.
The tree also appeared to grow bigger and bigger each year, transforming from a beautiful symbol of everlasting life that the birth of God’s Son brought into the world, into a household monstrosity, turning our home upside down each Christmas season. Every December, in order to make room for its ever-expanding (or so it seemed) limbs, we have to move the sofa into the guest bedroom, and the keyboard with its stand into our son’s bedroom, and the spare desk into the dining room, and the bench from the guest bedroom…
Honey, where are we going to put the bench?!!!
Making room for the tree has become our number one Christmas chore…er… I meant to say tradition.
This is insane! We need to hire movers or a chiropractor to set up the darn thing. We should just get rid of it. I scowled at the tree as if it was its fault.
We don’t have room for you! No room. Period.
The silent echo reverberated with familiarity. No room… no room… no room…… in… the… inn…
With sudden realization, a mess of conflicting feelings that must have torn the insides of the Bethlehemian inn-keeper settled in my stomach. I could imagine myself standing at the door of our house, suspiciously eyeing a tired, frost-bitten couple with the baby on the way…
I am so sorry, but we have no room for you anywhere in the house…. However, there is a bit of space in our garage among all the boxes, and garden tools, and discarded toys, and bicycles… if you don’t mind…
I took a step away from the tree, staggered by its quiet testimony of the clutter overcrowding my life. The space.
What else got pushed out by the relentless torrent of unrestrained real and perceived needs, wants, desires, personal and ministry responsibilities, demands, requirements? Is all my worthless junk swallowing up what is really precious before my very eyes? Do I even know the difference?!!! And, how in the world did I come to resent something I used to love... and enjoy?!!
The evergreen assayer stood still, its lights blinking brightly.
Perhaps… what I really need… for Christmas… is to just to make… a little more room… a LOT more room in my life. So the Life Himself can come in.
He came to His own and those who were His own didn't receive Him... John 1:11