When I was a girl, my mother was the one who always put the lights on our Christmas tree, which I realize now was probably because my dad just doesn't have the patience for it. And of course, at the time, neither did my brothers and I. We bugged her as she worked, since none of the decorations could go on (something we could help with) until the lights were finished, and the lights always seemed to take forever.
I know people who have fake trees -- which now come pre-lit, simplifying the process even further -- prefer them because they're easier and don't leave a mess. They don't want the bother.
And as I wound those lights around my tree last night, I got to musing that putting lights onto a tree is a little like life. Sometimes you feel like you're going up and down and round and round in circles in this journey and not making any progress at all. Your hands get dirty. Occasionally you get stuck from all the weaving in and out and have to backtrack. Some spots are clear and easy to navigate, while in others the boughs are thick and dark and you can become lost in them. They poke you in the eye sometimes, or thwack you in the face, and unwelcome visitors -- like lizards or stinkbugs -- can pop out unexpectedly.
Then, there are the decorations. Some people like to have theme trees, or stick to a specific color pallette. On my tree, they're a hodgepodge of colors, and ages -- some of mine used to on my Granny B's tree when my mom was a girl -- animals, bells, birds, cartoon characters. It's a riot of color that, despite the seeming lack of any sort of organization, just works. Presents
And when you're done the seeming hassle is so worth it; sitting and gazing at the tree, your hands washed of sap. The tree is done, lights, decorations, golden garland and the star on top, all the effort is worth it, especially when you can sit back and just gaze at the blinking, colorful lights and the glow they cast on the wall behind the tree. That smell, the crisp piney scent that spreads throughout a room after the lights have been going for a while and the tree warms. It's beautiful.
In life, we sometimes don't know where we're going, either. Our free will takes us down paths we sometimes shouldn't take, but we can learn from them. We make mistakes and our hands get dirty. There are unwanted surprises. But on the flipside, we have family and collect friends who become part of us. God guides us out of the forest and gives us a chance to wash our hands. And hopefully, when the journey is done, we'll gaze at beauty. And I'm sure it'll smell nice, too.