Wednesday, December 24, 2008
We were too late to get a tree. Br. Max and I stood outside the chain link fence looking at a heap of greens in the far back of the lot. It was not clear if they were whole trees or just the bottoms of trees. Trees purchased by people who plan ahead and don’t have any hang ups about decorating for Christmas before Christmas Eve. We asked some homeless guys if they knew of any other places to get trees. “Nope,” they said, looking at us with puzzled faces. We stuck our noses into some thrift shops and other cheapo places to see if we could maybe get a fake tree. My heart wasn’t really into that idea, but I thought we should look just to say we had. “This is getting to be kinda like a children’s story I remember about some woodland creatures looking for a Christmas tree on Christmas Eve,” I told Max. He remembered some thing about a story like that too; he is also an educated man. But neither of us could think of the name of it. “Barrington Bunny?” I suggested. He didn’t think it was that. By this time we were very wet and bedraggled and looking more like woodland creatures than I like to, so I suggested we forget the tree idea. “How about we go get some boughs and poinsettias and call it Christmas?” He agreed, so we went and got $28.28 worth of fir, holly pine and dogwood branches (they are red—I never heard of decorating for Christmas with dogwood branches—this is California after all.) It is a small bunch, maybe we got ripped off; but we are in North Berkeley, and the woman selling them was very pleasant.
Walking along and thinking of Christmas Bunnies (hey, I know for a fact there is a Christmas story about a bunny), homeless people, being too late, yet reveling in the Christmas atmosphere, watching people come and go from the chic coffee bars (in red and white outfits, going to perfectly decorated homes, I’m sure), I suddenly thought: “Well, Christmas is going to happen ready or not.” And the only thing keeping me from being ready is a story I keep telling myself about how it should be. At the heart of all the stories that are worth it at Christmas is the simple affirmation of love. It is what God was sharing with the world, it is the only thing of value we have to give and get. If the world took the message of Christmas love more to heart there would be an increase of peace, a bounty of cheer and enough to eat the world over.