Tinsel in a tangle

By Dave Henning / December 12, 2016
Dad putting finishing touch- tinsel on real Christmas tree, c. 1960

Dad putting finishing touch- tinsel- on real Christmas tree, c. 1960

“Don’t get your tinsel in a tangle.”- Anonymous

“The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light; they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.”- Isaiah 9:2 (KJV)

“Hope is patience with the lamp lit.”- Tertullian

During my childhood years, most people in my parents’ circle of friends followed this holiday commandment: “Thou shalt not promote (i.e. put up thy tree) Christmas until Halloween and Thanksgiving have passed.”  Therefore, Dad usually purchased the tree about a week before Christmas.

As Head Christmas Tree Trimmer, Dad first strung the lights, then added the ornaments and multicolored icicles.  At this point in the decorating Dad allowed volunteer seasonal help- me!  Tinsel provided the finishing touch, meticulously released from its cardboard holder and then placed plentifully throughout the tree. No branch remained un-tinseled.   After Epiphany, we carefully extricated the silvery lead foil from the branches, lest we get our tinsel in a tangle.  Dad never threw away perfectly good tinsel.

After shopping for the perfect tree, my parents knew the exact place to set up the tree- the TV corner of the living room.  In Because of Bethlehem, Max Lucado finds a kindred spirit in the Christmas tree.  Hence, Max compares what you do for a tree with what God does for you:

“God . . . knows just the place where you’ll be placed.  He has a barren living room in desperate need of warmth and joy.  A corner of the world needs some color.  He selected you with that place in mind.”

But God’s selection represents the tip of the blessing iceberg.  He then surrounds us with His grace.  In addition, we become the distribution point of God’s gifts.  Therefore, no one should leave our presence empty-handed.  Pastor Lucado summarizes our task:

“Our task is to stand tall in his love, secure in our place, sparkling in kindness, surrounded by his goodness, freely giving to all who come our way.”

What, then, do you do when Christmas feels more like a hole-iday than a holiday?  Face the crisis by facing God first.  Remember, Max encourages, that God continues to bring beauty out of Bethlehems.

Ultimately, God’s miraculous and written messages shed the light of heaven on Jesus.  Yet, long after you take down the lights and tinsel , the heart-shaping promises of Christmas endure.  To prevent getting your tinsel in a tangle, dwell in God’s light and reflect that light to others.  C. S. Lewis provides wise counsel as we prepare to worship the Babe of Bethlehem:

“Don’t shine so that others can see you.  Shine, so that through you, others can see Him.”

About the author

Dave Henning


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