In my younger days, it was our family tradition to go into the forest with the proper permit, and select and cut our own, special Christmas tree. Often that tree turned out to be a foot or so too tall for our living room, but after trimming it to fit, we carefully placed it, best side out, to be admired by all.

We decorated it with lights, ornaments, artificial icicles and a star on the very top. It was beautiful. That tree, in a sense, ushered in a happy, joyful season. Family and friends gathered for a wonderful dinner with all the trimmings. Gifts were exchanged, Christmas carols were sung and special hymns and songs heard, all over town.

People greeted each other with smiles and wishes of "Merry Christmas." Efforts were made to share with those less fortunate — especially food for the hungry, and toys for the children.

But soon the tree withers. Lights and ornaments are removed and saved for next year, and the tree is discarded. Unfortunately, many of the other good things about the season are put aside also — joy, happiness, peace, benevolence and friendly attitudes.

My children are all grown now, and we no longer cut our Christmas tree. It was replaced with an artificial one, but we try to hold on to the more important things about the season. Family gathering, joy, peace, happiness, mindful of helping the needy, and above all, remembering that God's greatest gift to mankind was Christ.

KEN TIPPS

Astoria Church of Christ

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