“Unpacking” my suitcase as promised in my intro blog, I find a “Christmas tree, an angel and me!” This is clearly a memory that happened to me personally on December 8, 2016. For me, it is an essential memory and something to share with you, especially at this most important time of year.
I was on a mission that day to bring home a Christmas tree. It would be that “special tree,” and we all know what that means. Most of us have certain specs in our mind about the tree that will finally make it home with us. One of mine always was that the tree had to give off its scent immediately to my sniffing nose! The kind of smell that if it was in the inside of your car you breathed in its pine fragrance all the way home and how once it entered through your front door it filled the whole house with its fragrance.
This day was different though, and my feelings on this mission were truly a mixed bag of emotions. It was our custom that my husband and I went together every year to pick out our Christmas tree. He had the patience of a saint and would cut the netting off of the tree, shake it, twirl it around to see if there were any gaps and wait to hear those longed for joyous words, “Yes, I love it and it smells wonderful! It’s our tree for this Christmas!”
This year was different. I was without my husband at my side for he had passed the year before. I felt that I was strong enough to go out this day and get the tree but I found myself halfheartedly at the first nursery just wandering around aimlessly. I wasn’t into this moment. I was ready to give up, go back home, hike up the steps to the attic and bring down the artificial tree that was stored up there.
As I got back into my car, thoughts began to swirl in my mind. “Why are you giving up? Where is your hope?” I felt my husband in the co-pilot seat next to me having this conversation. Ugh! So, I started the car and proceeded to the next nursery thinking maybe I just might find that perfect Christmas tree today.
Arriving at my destination, I got out of the car and didn’t even take a cart. I just started walking around looking for trees my height which is about five feet! One of the workers directed to me to a section where there were four to five foot-tall trees. As I made my way there, I noticed it was pretty empty of customers. Not many people were out getting trees that day it seemed. I found myself alone standing in a sea of bundled orange netted evergreens.
Suddenly from behind me, I heard a voice. “Isn’t it sad, when you have to pick out a Christmas tree by yourself?” Yikes, I thought! Who is this person? What a way to start a conversation with a stranger! I still remember so clearly the way she was dressed. It was blustery cold out but she had “ballet slipper shoes” on without socks, long hair without a hat and a very lightweight coat. “Let me help you!” she said, and she insisted on twirling the tree exactly as my husband would do. What exactly was going on here? Was this woman for real? The tree at that moment took all of my attention and I forgot all these thoughts. I was inhaling the most beautiful pine fragrance and I knew this tree passed my test with flying “green colors.” Even the price was right. . .what more could I want?
All through this encounter, I kept asking my newfound friend if she needed my help in picking out a tree for herself, but she was committed to her task at hand. She was on a mission that day! And it was clearly me! “I think this is your perfect Christmas tree!” she said and then ran off to get a cart and help before I could even reply. Before I knew it, she was coming back with one of the men who then took over and threw the netted bundle over his shoulder.
Thanking her, I promised that I would be back to help her as soon as the tree was loaded into my car. That was the plan, or so I thought. It was not hers, for she was nowhere to be found. Just as she had appeared from behind me, that is as quickly as she disappeared. I searched the area where we had picked out the tree together, the inside of the store and the parking lot. Gone! She vanished into thin, cold blustery air!
“Isn’t it sad when you have to pick out a Christmas tree by yourself?” Well, it seems that day. . . I did not. I will never forget her, nor will I forget the “hospitality” she showed a “woman alone” in a Christmas tree nursery. Surely, she was an angel!
“Continue to love each other like brothers, and remember always to welcome strangers,
for by doing this, some people have entertained angels without knowing it.”
Because of this woman, instead of feeling desolate, I came away with hope. Surely hope is an essential virtue for all of us in our life’s journey; even in picking out a Christmas tree when you thought you would be doing it alone!
“May the God of hope bring you such joy and peace in your faith that the power of the Holy Spirit will remove all bounds to hope.” (Romans: 15-13)
Wishing Everyone a Blessed and Hope Filled Christmas!
Image by Anita Guariglia
Bible Scripture Quotes taken from Jerusalem Bible Readers Edition