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Finding Harmony in Advent – Day 9

December 9, 2013


Tired, Hungry, and Treeless

The Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha! You are worried and troubled over so many things, but just one is needed. Mary has chosen the right thing, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10: 41-42

Many years while the kids were in their busy years we had a hard time squeezing in even two hours to go find a Christmas tree. We were old fashioned enough that we wanted it to be a family outing and the tree had to be real. One year the calendar looked so full we literally had to make an appointment and put it on the calendar.

Then Stuart’s company started working overtime. The date arrived and I was in town with our daughters doing late errands and of course this was long before cell phones. We felt high tech to just have an answering machine, with a nifty time stamp. I called at 4:41 p.m., trying to catch Stuart, just in case he had gotten off earlier, and talked to a vacant house. Here’s how the rest of that day went:

4:49 p.m.: Stuart called home, trying to tell us to meet him at the tree place.

4:51: We walked in the door, checked the machine, and found 2 messages from 2 frustrated parents.

5:00: Stuart arrived home and we quickly decided to go anyway, even though Stuart reported that in passing the tree place, it looked like they only had 3 trees left.

It turned out there was only one salable tree; no one liked it. We sped across the county to another cheap place. Darkness was falling fast. They were closed. We went to another grocery store where they sold trees. Those were $14 to $20 for woebegone leftovers (1990s prices). By now we were irritated at each other for being so choosy.

6:00: We were tired, cold, hungry and treeless. It made me think of that Bethlehem traveler and her husband 2000 years earlier who was pregnant, tired and bedless. We headed home. I decided to throw together a pancake and egg supper only to discover I only had half a cup of pancake mix. So I decided to make them from scratch, which took one of the eggs. So I was down to three eggs for 5 people. Oh well, one daughter never wants an egg and I would get by.

6:30: Supper served. Everyone wanted an egg. All pancakes, batter, eggs and a few leftover ham pieces were devoured. I always have leftover pancakes and batter. I exclaimed, “What is going on here?”

Tanya observed pointedly, “Well, did you notice how late it is?” Michelle added, “These homemade pancakes are extra good.”

And suddenly even though some of us were still hungry and we were still treeless, none of it mattered. We were warm, safe, together, and knew the tree would eventually be found. And Christmas would still come to the Davises.

When we are worried and distracted by too much to do, remember the words of Jesus to “choose the better things.”

Do you have an almost-disaster-finding-the-tree story to share?


My photos each day in this Advent series feature figures from a handmade advent calendar I picked up long ago at a yard sale. It quickly became the kids’ favorite, and a permanent addition to our Advent collection and celebrations. I hope you enjoy watching the parade of characters on this virtual advent calendar. Here is the calendar after one week of adding characters, props, and scenery!



This story was first published in my regular syndicated weekly newspaper column, Another Way, see  (which can be used in any local paper; email me for details).


From → Faith, Family Life

  1. Margaret Weir permalink

    Years ago, early in our marriage, we used to get our Christmas trees at the cottage. Some years, we were organized enough to get them early, and other years, we battled the snow to get at one. When I say, we, I mean my husband, who gamely climbed to the top of a big balsam fir to top it because we didn’t like to kill trees. They were always the best trees, and smelled wonderful. One year, sweating, dirty and exhausted after a particularly challenging climb, my husband announced that he was too old to be doing that kind of thing, and it would be worth it to pay for one. Beginning with the next year, we bought a tree from White Rose nursery, and I found it just as taxing, as I was always the one to be too cold, too soon, while waiting for Mr. Picky to find just the right tree. We continued to buy from them until they went out of business. After that, we tried to find decent ones at Home Depot, but were never really happy with what we got. In 2008, after we lost our very first, special grandchild, our little Aurora, I didn’t have it in me to find a tree, let alone decorate and celebrate. When it got too close to Christmas, my husband bundled me into the car and took me on a wagon ride in one of the cut-your-own places. After getting off, traipsing around and finding nothing, we headed back to the gate, where they had some larger precut, wrapped trees they said came from Alliston, They also said that’s where their good trees were. Harummph! We then decided to go see what Canadian Tire had to offer. The Optimists were selling them, and it was the easiest tree hunting expedition we ever took. Not only that, the money was going, in part, towards a charitable organization. Every year since then, we have bought our tree from them, and we haven’t had a bad one yet. BUT, each year also brings that joyless necessity of getting all the lights to work. Seems like every year since we switched to mini lights, we blow out at least one string. We are fussy as to the colours, and nowadays, LED lights don’t come in the right combinations. Last year, the lights came with “swappable” lights, so we sat and tediously pulled out yellow and orange bulbs, and replaced them with red, green and blue bulbs. After an entire day of just getting the tree up, positioned and lit, my husband grimly confessed that he could see, in the not too distant future, we would bite the bullet and get an artificial tree that we could just bag and put in the basement without undecorating it. Some fun, huh Bambi?

    By the way, my maiden name was Davis.

    • Good maiden name! I was away from my normal computer a few days and very sorry I haven’t responded until now . That is a neat idea to top out older trees to get a tree, but yes, the climb would make it quite (!) the expedition. Wow. I’m glad he’s no longer climbing. Love the story of all the fun of replacing those tedious bulbs. Why do we do this? (We have had those hassles too.) Thanks, Margaret. Special thoughts and prayers for your family as you remember the loss of your grandchild.

  2. Athanasia permalink

    No disasters, but one year when I was about 19 we ended up with the crookedest tree. It looked OK when we picked it but after we tried to screw the pins into the trunk to hold it up we realizes the trunk was bent. In order for the top to point straight up we had to tip the tree to the side, which then meant it would not balance. We ended up tying it into the middle of the dining room doorway for the season. Fortunately there was a 2nd door to use.

    • This made me chuckle out loud. I guess because this probably happens to all of us too. I can almost see your tree! Thanks for sharing.

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