"Oh, so you let your kids help decorate the tree."
An acquaintance came by my house to retrieve her daughter from a birthday party I'd given for my son.
I looked toward my fragrant Christmas tree filled with shiny bulbs and homemade Sunday School ornaments. "Yes, of course. We spent Sunday afternoon putting up the tree."
Her gaze swept my tree again. "I never let my family put ornaments on the tree. If I let my kids help, the tree would look awful."
I glanced at my tree. Most of the ornaments were clumped in clusters on the bottom third of the branches. I smiled. "I like the way my tree looks."
She shrugged and left hand-in-hand with her daughter.
That exchanged happened over twenty-five years ago, yet I still think of her comment every Christmas season. Since then my children have grown, and the ornaments on my tree are placed in an orderly fashion. Perfect.
She didn't understand what Christmas means. It's not about the bright lights and HGTV decor. It's not about presenting a facade of perfection.
I was too timid to continue that discussion, and that's a memory that haunts me still. If I could replay the experience, I'd tell her about the greatest gift of Christmas -- a God and Savior who came to redeem mankind and loves her more than anything. I'd tell her that He he longs for her to have a life-changing love relationship with Him. I'd tell her that greatest gift -- an eternity of knowing and serving a holy God -- is free for all who ask. I'd tell her the appearance of the surroundings are irrelevant. It's about the condition of the heart and the soul. It's about the realization of a hope that glows beyond any of the brightest Christmas decorations.
I often wonder about that woman, about what became of her. And I pray that at some point in her life her path crossed with someone who wasn't as timid as I was.
What about you? Do you have a Christmas memory haunts your recollections?