As I wrote in a recent song, “To Bethlehem,” our Christmas tree was whatever I could find out in the woods behind our home on our little turnip patch farm in South Louisiana. The skinny little, wild spruce pine often made Charlie Brown‘s tree look pretty swanky! But Aunt Eva would cover it with colored popcorn and the few little tin ornaments that were often given to us. In those days, in a tidy little room that doubled as both a bedroom and our living room, I would often sprawl out on the floor, watch “It’s a Wonderful Life,” and look up at the tree and wonder about heaven. The scene was most lowly, yet then again, so was the original Christmas Day. Our evenings would end with Aunt Eva getting me up in her lap, reading the Bible, praying for me, and asking God to bless me.
“Lord, Thou must have something really good for this boy…else he wouldn’t have so many problems!”
“Lord, Thou must have something really good for this boy,” she prayed with deep humility clothed in child-like, country simplicity, “else he wouldn’t have so many ‘dern’ problems! Well, we leave that at the foot of the Cross Lord. We do thank Thee, O kind and dearest Father, for watching over us; for watching over our home. Thou truly art the only Man in this house! Thank you Lord for Thy good and never-ceasing provisions. We thank for the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. Thou, O Christ, art our all-in-all. We pray in Thy matchless name.” And she would lead me from the chair to the bed, in the same room, and switch off the table lamp. Yet the moonlight would shine on that tree. And the wonder of Aunt Eva’s faith, her prayers for hope and healing, and the sparkle in Jimmy Stewart‘s moist eyes at the end of the movie (which I could not forget and I remember even now as I write), and the light on the skinny, little tree made me think, “This is really Wonder-ful.” And I pulled up her patchwork quilts and fell asleep.
For me Christmas is still about glory of everyday wonder.
But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times. (Micah 5:2)