Lights Lite

13 12 2005

As a kid, I was always pretty picky about the Christmas tree. It had to be just so. First of all, it had to be a real tree. Not too fat, not too thin with thick boughs. Then, I wanted the trimmings to look right. Not too much tinsel and just the right balance of candy canes. And, of course, it had to be full of lights (preferably white). I’m not sure you can put too many lights on a Christmas tree – I never have.

Well, as an adult… I’m still pretty picky about the Christmas tree. And, here in Togo, that becomes a bit of a burden because 1) there aren’t any real Christmas trees here, 2) there’s no place to buy tinsel (and it can’t be reused like our Ziploc bags), 3) the ants make nests in the candy canes, so that’s a waste and 4) our Togolese version of Home Depot doesn’t have any white Christmas lights in stock (never did, probably never will) to replace the strings that have burnt out. So, this year, our fake (‘artificial’ is too nice of a word) Christmas tree has no tinsel, no candy canes and only one string of lights zigzagged across the front part of the tree from top to bottom. By my standards, it is pretty sad.

Thankfully, as I struggled with my disappointment over our Christmas tree, the Lord reminded me that the very fact that I own an artificial Christmas tree (with lights and more ornaments than we have room to hang, no less!) places me in a rarified position most of my Kabiye friends and neighbors will never be in. As I thought of how our African visitors marvel at the Christmas tree every year, I was humbled and reminded to find the beauty and richness of what is actually there.

I think I often fall into the trap of regarding myself as I regarded our ‘lights lite’ Christmas tree. Too often, I grumble, fret and try to cover up what is missing in my life instead of being proud of the brilliant, rich trimmings the Lord has given me. In truth, I may not have all the gifts, skills and accolades that I wish I had, but what I do have isn’t anything sneeze at either. My standards need to be lowered and my self-esteem in Christ needs to be boosted.

So, this holiday season, I’m not only going to appreciate the lights on the Christmas tree in the corner of our living room (it actually looks pretty good, huh?); I’m also going to earnestly seek to rediscover, appreciate and accentuate the Light that shines in my life.

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7 responses

14 12 2005
Carter Davis

Nice post…I’m wondering if you are going to point out to your Kabiye visitors the pagan origins of the Christmas tree…They’d get a kick out of it if they got the irony.

You left out a key fact…how in the world did you get the tree to Togo? Obviously you didn’t buy it there.

14 12 2005
Essowedeu

Thanks Carter! Funny story on the tree… We bought the tree when we were first married and then sold it to our teammates, the Kennells, when we moved to Africa. (We thought we wouldn’t want a Christmas tree while on the field. HA! After one Christmas without a tree, we bought a small artifical tree at a store in Lome.) Anyways, the Kennells never got a chance to use it while they were here and I found it in the garage after they had relocated to the US and we moved into their house. I guess the tree is kind of like that dog you try and try to get rid of, but it always seems to end up on your front porch! – Bryan

15 12 2005
Jenni

Hey Bryan — got the link to your blog off y’alls newsletter. I’ve enjoyed the little peek into life in Kara, and look forward to keeping up with you guys via blogworld. Ain’t technology grand?!

Merry Christmas to you all!

19 12 2005
Lesa Ries

I’m just glad I didn’t appear in this section as the ‘Grinch’ who got rid of the real tree when you were growing up and made you use a ‘fake’ tree in your impressionable teen years. I will try to get you more lights for next year to make up for my short comings as a mom

19 12 2005
Lesa Sims

oops – I meant Lesa Sims – talk about a Freudian slip!

20 12 2005
Patty

Funny… it brings back memories.

We bought a tree from some ABWE missionaries who were leaving. The branches didn’t attach to the trunk any more, so we had to tie them on with twisty ties. After 3 or 4 years, the twisty ties were all breaking– did you know you can’t get twisty ties in Tabligbo? Anyway, by the time we left, the few branches that could still attach were propping up the others. And yet Christmas managed to find us every year. We’ve got a beautiful real fir tree in our living room this year, but I long for that smell of Harmattan dust.

Merry Christmas.

2 08 2007
More Light(s) « Into the Wild

[…] year I put up a post complaining about the lack of lighting on our Christmas tree. Well, thanks to overwhelming response to that post, we went from having 1 […]

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