Childhood Christmas memories make us feel nostalgic this time of year. My childhood memory was traumatic and triumphant at the same time. I didn't really appreciate its value until later in life. It proves to me that God wastes nothing in our lives if we allow Him to work His will in us.
A Christmas Tree Lesson
I stood on the shore of Gull Pond watching the last hurrah of summer. The trees in this picturesque place were bathed in the glorious fall colors of red, orange, and gold. A perfect mirror image reflected in the sparkling waters. My eyes fixated on a beautiful sugar maple and a tear trickled down my cheek. It occurred to me that this might be my last time to see this beautiful place. One by one I watched the red leaves float on the autumn breeze and skim the surface of the water. My life was ebbing away just like the life in that tree.
I had survived a rough year, with numerous hospitalizations and near death experiences and there were more challenges to overcome. I had come to my family’s camp in the mountains for a time of recuperation. Soon I would be added to the national organ transplant waiting list. There was no guarantee I would receive a liver transplant in time to save my life. I wanted to be optimistic about my chances, but I was having a pity party. My prayer was short and to the point, “God show me your will and your plan for what remains of my life.”
Immediately my mind flashed back forty years. I stood in our living room looking at our Christmas tree. Like any ten-year old child, I awaited Christmas with great anticipation. All my hopes and dreams were wrapped and ready under the tree, but the tree itself was unwrapped and almost naked.
The bitter cold winds and lake effect snows had blasted my town on the shores of Lake Ontario. It was an unusually cold winter and the old oil furnace in our upstairs apartment worked overtime. My mother’s asthma and my dry skin suffered that year and the Christmas tree didn't like it either. My bedroom was next to the living room and at night I could hear the steady drip, drip of needles falling from our newly decorated tree. By Christmas morning dead needles and shattered ornaments covered the presents.
I was devastated since our family tradition was for the tree to stay decorated and on display until well after New Year. Our naked tree just wouldn't do since I couldn't show off my tree and gifts to my friends. I carried on so that my father agreed to go look for a new tree. He drove the old car around town until we saw several trees at a roadside stand. A farmer saw us coming and probably wondered about folks out looking for a Christmas tree on Christmas morning. It was my job to explain why we were there and only had five dollars to spend. “No charge!” the farmer said as he loaded the tree into the trunk of the car. My father sputtered and fumed as he dragged the tree up the stairs and mounted it to the tree stand. I didn’t dare complain as I swept up piles of dead needles, strung the lights, and hung the unbroken ornaments on the tree.
A squawking flock of geese diving into Gull Pond brought me back to reality. I suddenly realized that like that tree so long ago; I too was on life support. Just as my earthy Father had saved my Christmas by helping find a new tree, I believed that my heavenly Father would spare my life long enough to get a new liver. I left the peaceful setting of Gull Pond with renewed hope and a confident faith in God’s provision.
Two years later when the springtime trees were in full bloom, I received my donor liver and a second chance at life.
My memoir: Born three Times—A New Life, A New Liver, A New Love tells this story and many others from my life. You can purchase my book from Amazon.com in either paperback or e-book format. It is an inspirational Christmas gift for anyone on your list.