The Christmas Piano

I was malled today. Yes malled, not mauled.

I went to the mall to shop. Well, not so much to shop as to walk around. I went early to beat the Christmas crowds, but it didn’t take long for almost everyone from three counties to join me.

I’m not a shopper by nature, so this was my first trip to the mall this season. In fact, it’s been awhile since my last visit. It surprised me to see our mall no longer had a Williams-Sonoma. Many stores I remembered were gone.

My leisurely walk turned into a fight to see which kiosk employee would be first to smear lotion on me, curl my hair, or put a hat on me. One guy grabbed my hand and started to buff my nails before I could say no. He didn’t like the fact I had a nail kit of my own, already stocked with a nail buffer.

I took refuge in one of the luxury stores. You know, the three-level stores at the farthest end of a mall. Don’t ask the name, I didn’t look. I can tell you that at one time it was a Nordstrom.

With no crowd in the store, I could linger over items I would never pay that price for—not even at Christmas.

Live Christmas music flowed from a piano on the lower floor. Not canned music pumped through a sound system, but gentle Christmas carols that encouraged me to hum along.

I hummed my way through the petite department, past the section of over embellished, yet elegant, party dresses. While strolling down the center aisle, I came to a dead stop when I realized the piano was not longer playing a carol, but an old chorus we sang at church years ago.

“Give thanks with a grateful heart.
Give thanks to the Holy One.
Give thanks because He’s given
Jesus Christ His son.”

Surprised to hear the old song, I stepped to the railing and peered down to the first floor. An older African American woman sat at the piano with her eyes closed, playing with such an anointing. All I could do was watch and listen.

She looked up, and in the moment our eyes met, we felt it—the bond of two sisters in Christ. We were family.

We smiled at each other. I nodded and waved my hand in thanks to her for sharing her gift.

As I continued on, she transitioned into another old chorus from years ago.

“Oh how He loves you and me.
Oh how He loves you and me.
He gave His life, what more could He give?
Oh how He loves you. Oh how He loves me.
Oh how He loves you and me.”

This precious woman will never know I was desperate for that connection, but God knew. Her smile and anointed playing became Jesus to me.

This Christmas I pose a challenge to you. Don’t be cruel, be kind. Reach out and be Jesus to someone.

That person behind you in line for coffee may look fine, but their smile may hide the fact their life has shattered around them. Be Jesus.

You may never know what one small kindness may mean to someone who is hurting. This Christmas, be His hands. Be His feet. Be Jesus to someone.

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To Tree or Not To Tree, That is the Question

Every year, the week after Thanksgiving, I start the same routine. Although there’s no need, it’s marked it on my calendar.

This year was different. You know, life happens. Destruction, mayhem, chaos. Call it whatever you wish, the result was the same; I didn’t put up the Christmas tree.

A week crept by and still no glorious, festive, glowing fake tree in the corner. No angel forever frozen in mid “Gloria” peering down on our bright faces.  I decided it might not be worth the trouble this year.

Until the next morning.

I awoke to find my son had moved all the furniture in our living room. It takes rearranging to create my joyful holiday concept each year. His attempt to persuade almost moved me.

A few days later, I awoke again. (Yay!) On this day, I rose to find our tree, and all needed Christmas adornment had appeared upstairs, placed in front of the fireplace. They sat waiting for me to get to work. It was a mystery! (Not really)

He was determined.

It got me thinking, “Just who started this Christmas tree thing, anyway?” So, I researched and learned a few things:

  1. The origin of the Christmas tree began in Germany in the 16th century. Christians from Northern Germany performed mystery plays that featured an evergreen tree called a “paradise tree” decorated with apples. They plucked one apple, depicting Adam and Eve.
  2. Puritans celebrated Christmas with mass, but having decorations could be punishable by death. (That’s a game changer!)
  3. Many American colonists saw the Christmas tree as a pagan symbol.
  4. If you B-R-O-A-D-E-N your thinking, you could say a Christmas tree helped George Washington and the Continental Army defeat the German Hessians (who fought for the British) in 1776. Washington and his troops crossed the Delaware River into Trenton, NJ on December 24-25. While the Hessians celebrated Christmas with eating and drinking, singing and decorating trees, they made themselves an easy target for Washington’s surprise attack.
  5. It wouldn’t be until the 1830s that Americans first displayed Christmas trees in the United States although German settlers had displayed Christmas trees since the 1700s.
  6. Protestant reformer, Martin Luther, gets credit for being the first to put candles on Christmas trees.

Having a Christmas tree is more modern than earlier pagan use of evergreen. Don’t confuse the use of Christmas trees with the pagan use of evergreens for decorations, or the Egyptians and Romans use in Winter Solstice celebrations. 

Christmas trees have come a long way from their origin in mystery plays to the prominence they enjoy today. Still, I don’t know… to tree, or not to tree?

So did I, or didn’t I?

I’m a mom…of course I did!