December 06, 2015

Christmas Forest by Glynis M. Belec

My heart friend made me this. It speaks volumes. 
 Today I put up my Christmas forest and decorations. We always had a real tree when the kiddos were home. I used to love the whole process - hubby getting the tree and anchoring it so it wouldn't topple. He would put on the lights and then the kids and I would take over and we would hang all the decorations. At the end, Daddy would lift up one of the kiddos to put on the angel. Sweet memories.

Once the kids grew up and had their own homes and their own Christmas trees, it just wasn't the same. I still said, though, that I would never have a 'fake' tree.

Then one year, I was in a thrift store and saw the cutest little tree. $2.50. I thought that it was about time we downsized and all the fussing with a big tree and the messy pine-needles only detracted from the real focus of Christmas anyway. This small one would do. I bought it.

My white tree. 
Time came to decorate and then I realized I wasn't thinking. I had over 25 years worth of homemade Christmas decorations, along with all the fancy store-bought ornaments. The store bought ones I could pass on, but how could I tuck away all the heart and love that went into creating the homemade ones. Barely any would fit on the cute little thrift store find. So over the next few weeks, I occasionally popped back to the same thrift store in search of more 'cute trees'. I ended up with six sweet little 'fake' firs for decorating then a couple of other minis for the top of the music cupboard and three more for background for our Nativity scene - all for under $20. Gotta' love a bargain.

My blue tree
Now when I decorate, I need to set aside an entire day. I remarked to my hubby this evening, about how long it took me to set up our Christmas forest. When it was the big tree and we did it together as a family it would take a couple of hours from start to finish, and that included hot apple cider or hot chocolate (with marshmallows). Now it seems to take me the entire day. But I know why and I love it. Each of my trees hold special memories. As I carefully unpack and decorate, I reminisce and reflect on the blessings God has lavished upon me over the years.

 There is the white tree. It holds the snowflakes that were made by a patient I cared for in a nursing home. My daughter made me the white angel; a student made me the two plaster circles with the snowflake imprint. My son made the white Styrofoam turtle dove when he was five.

My precious eggs.
The blue tree holds the popcorn strings. They are over 25 years old. I remember the day we made them. The paper gingerbread man was made by another student; the real one by me and then more Styrofoam bells with glitter and pretty drums from my junior munchkins.

Oh those eggs. Those precious egg ornaments - we blew the insides of the eggs out and somehow we cut a hole in the front, put lace around the opening, adorned it with glitter, cotton wool and the tiniest pine cones ever - inside. Seriously how did they not get smashed after 25 plus years? I treasure those two eggs made by eager little hands.

My niece made these almost 40 years ago.
If you look carefully on the blue tree, tucked low down is the fragile Styrofoam 'popcorn' string made by my niece, when she was in kindergarten - she'll be 44 in January.

Love my babies.
My eyes dart to the 'Best Mom' ornament; it's a little bit too heavy to suspend from my little trees. So she sits smiling at me from the base of the white tree. I smile back.

At the entrance way of my forest is my most beautiful memory - the Nativity on the cupboard. It has always been customary for me to set this out first. As I gaze upon the characters, I remind myself to go beyond the beautiful art and to focus on the deeper meaning of this season. I get a little annoyed at the wise men who show up at my Nativity, knowing full well they really were not part of that first Christmas evening in the stable. But I let it pass - it is part of the Christmas story, after all; just a later part.

Reflections on the Moment
God has seen our family through much. Christmas, anymore,  is a hyped up holiday replete with all things worldly and few things based on the Word of God. That doesn't deter me one iota, though. I can't panic about the state of the world. If I do I will go hurtling into judgement and that is not my job. My job is to share the peace and love and joy of the season and to impart the true message of hope in the One who was born that blessed and holy night. I start off doing those things by remembering and treasuring the blessings God has given me (some are displayed in my little Christmas forest.) Next I try my hardest to live what I read in God's word. I seriously try to trust and obey, although I often want to rebel. I close my mouth when I would just as soon release my anger, my know-it-all attitude, my judgement, my vengeance, my self-righteousness. . .and then I bow before the manger and say what can I give You, Lord? My $20 trees are a joke, I know, but all the real memories clinging to those fake branches are part of my heart. I'm thinking those might be some pretty good gifts to give to the King. After all he's in the business of collecting hearts.

My son (and daughter), give me your heart and let your eyes delight in my ways, Proverbs 23:26

To all my writer friends and fine readers - may your celebrations of Christ's birth go beyond how the world defines this blessed season - Celebrate! God Bless you and may you fully enjoy family, friends and Truth. 
Merry Christmas! 


  1. "I can't panic about the state of the world. If I do I will go hurtling into judgement and that is not my job." You echo what the Lord has been showing me too, Glynis. Your whole post echoes God's teaching, that we are to remember the things he's done so we can be assured he is doing good things now and will never cease doing good in and for those who love him. Blessings to you, my friend, after your very difficult year. May this Christmas season be steeped in memories from yesteryear, and grow new ones to flavour the coming Christmases.

    1. OH Thank you, Bobbi - I loved your blessing to enjoy the Christmas season and have it steeped in memories from yesteryear! I shall. I will. Thank you and Merry Christmas sweet, wise friend! x

    2. Amazing! I love the way each ornament and tree holds special memories for you. I also love the way you manage to keep your focus on Christ.

  2. Anonymous7:07 am GMT-7

    Thank you Glynis, for sharing. I love your reminder that no matter what the world blah-blahs about, it does not stop us from enjoying the many blessings we've received from our Lord over the many past Christmases. And thx for the idea of the 'forest'. My name is Violet Moore. I'm from Steinbach, MB and I have to choose Anonymous because I either don't have those other accounts or I can't remember the password. :(

  3. Glynis, I love your Christmas forest with all of your memories. And thank you for the reminder, "I can't panic about the state of the world. If I do I will go hurtling into judgement and that is not my job." When I realize that it's not my job, it becomes so much easier to celebrate this season.

  4. I have a small box (not as many as you) of handmade ornaments made by the I'm thinking I might need a new little tree to put them on...sweet idea. I like how you brought the celebration down to something so simple and enjoyable. I have had my moments of panic about the state of this world lately...your reminder is timely.

  5. Thank you, Glynis, for your uplifting post. The Norwegian and I have also downsized and we now have only a small fibre optic tree. I like your idea of a Christmas forest, but we don't have enough horizontal room in our small place to set up a forest. You have, however, motivated me to set aside for now the sad situations in this world and my accompanying judgments. It is time to prepare for the God and for my family and friends, a welcoming place for Emmanuel to come for a visit. I will make our house fair as I am able. May you too have a wonderful Christmas with your loved ones.

  6. Thank you for an opportunity to look back over the years of a family Christmas! My Christmas years when I was a boy were often forgettable with the now and again sense of wonder and fun. It wasn't really until I was married and had our children that we began creating our own memories to cling to and love. You reminded me of the sweetness of what memories can be. The trees and the decorations you reminisce about stir one's heart and put a smile on my face! Thank you so much for the warm fuzzy feelings and the reminder of Emmanuel! I pray rich blessings on you and your hubby as well as your family!

  7. Thanks Glynis, for sharing your Christmas forest with us. I love all the memories you have wrapped up (or should I say strung up) on each tree. Beautiful. May you and your family have a joy-filled Christmas too.

  8. Thank you for sharing the Christmas forest, the trees & 25 year old popcorn that strings the hearts!


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