For a couple years after we moved to the Rez, we got our tree at a corner lot in town because they were affordable and easy to find and there were no other more fun options that I knew of. One year, the tree we got at that spot completely died and began losing its needles about a week later, so we ditched it, (cried a little at how irritatingly difficult life can be), bought a new one, redecorated and that one made it a couple more weeks through the season. We began buying them at a local farm and garden store after that, and even though they were a bit pricier, the trees were always nice and lasted most of the month. As I look back at photos and read old blog posts from those times (2014 and 2015), the memories flood back from the different years and times we walked through, many of them very hard.
Now the Lord is doing something new in me and in my loved ones. Our "new house" (of two years) is a symbol in my heart and mind of the promise He makes to restore to us the years the locusts have eaten. This home is not my home, and the beauty He surrounds me with every day is only a pointer to the great Beauty of His own heart. He is doing a new thing and a very old thing and it shouldn't surprise me but it surprises me just the same.
For the past couple years we drove by a field full of spindly little trees on every trip to town. In the summer they looked like nothing but slowly they are growing to something. This year I noticed a big sign out front: "U-Cut!" Yesterday afternoon we hopped in the car and headed those five minutes up the road. Free cocoa, a wagon ride, a glimpse of Santa's reindeer, and several games of bean bag toss later, Jesse was loading our tree on top of the car and the girls finished up their last game of ring toss before clambering back into the car.
Decorating the tree is a big special deal in the Dempsen house. The lights are dimmed, a spread of exciting food is placed on the table: deli meats, fancy cheese, chex mix, cookies, crackers, fruits and veggies and dips. This year we made a new addition: fresh tamales from our favorite place in town and we're never going back! We munch and spend the evening together, reminiscing about ornaments as we pull them from boxes, recalling the times of plenty and the lean times, and finally, sitting and gazing at the twinkling lights, and making fun of mommy who keeps secretly moving ornaments, we rest and admire our adorned tree. We've carried the tradition on from my own family (even from my mama covertly moving ornaments and being lovingly jeered at). Rosie, who has the fewest ornaments of anyone, hung hers and was more interested in cuddling with her daddy on the couch while the other girls and I kept playing with the ornaments. I loved glancing over and seeing her with her arms around his neck, nestled into the crook of his arm. They both looked so peaceful and at home together. Millie, in her walking boot with hardly a limp, smiled her toothless smile so big, and I noticed a new tooth just peeking through the top gum. And Lyddie, flitting here and there, asking constantly where this or that ornament came from, picking her favorites, never silent, always looking for just the right spot on the tree.
This tree, another new thing, another unlooked for joy. All those hundreds of days driving by, this tree was growing and waiting for us and we had no idea. And most likely next year's tree is tucked in among the others waiting for us still. Gifts are waiting around the corner in unexpected places and I look forward to seeing the new things God is clapping his hands over like a parent on Christmas Eve, just eagerly anticipating the look on his daughter's face when she realizes what He's done now.