The Christmas Tree of Life

How much do you know about your family history?

As a young girl, I remember listening while my great-grandmother, born in 1900 to an English immigrant and his wife, sat in a puffy blue recliner weaving together stories about the “way things were” in the rural Midwest.

My paternal grandfather was a WWII tank gunner who helped liberate prisoner of war and labor camps. He served under General George C. Patton during the Battle of the Bulge, where a German bullet grazed his cheek — his life and our family line spared by half an inch.

My mom’s maternal grandmother became a second-generation teacher in a one-room school-house. My maternal grandfather was adopted during the Great Depression and his heritage remains mostly a mystery, apart from what we have pieced together through online genealogy resources. He worked in a government office and could never tell us what he did.

I reportedly have family ties to Daniel Boone, and can trace generations back to Quakers who were present with William Penn as he entered into a peace treaty with the Delaware Indians in Pennsylvania.

Although these snippets of my history help me catch glimpses of my cultural and familial roots, my true sense of self is nourished by a very different tree.

He is the Tree of Life and His name is Jesus: 

“But on this humbled ground, tiny shoot, hopeful and promising,
    will sprout from Jesse’s stump;
A branch will emerge from his roots to bear fruit.
And on this child from David’s line, the Spirit of the Eternal One will alight and rest.
By the Spirit of wisdom and discernment
    He will shine like the dew.” 
(Isaiah 11:1-2a VOICE)


What are we passing along to our children about their heavenly heritage this Christmas season? My boys are still little, so we are just beginning to build stepping stones toward all the richness in the redemption story. And this year, I will be thrilled if they start to catch this one thing:

We need Jesus to come.

The world stood waiting that first Christmas, filled with longing for true belonging. That’s why we remember the waiting. The shepherds and star, the gifts and kings, the travels and travail. The silence and singing.

We needed Jesus to come.

And He did come, and He’s coming again soon, and He is always, ALWAYS coming for your hearts, my little men. And when He comes, it means ultimate joy for you, so we welcome Him to keep on coming for us.

He is the start of our everlasting family tree: we are His branches. We are rooted in His love and who we are is all wrapped up in who He really is.


I do wonder, Mamas, if, in our resistance to what is counterfeit at Christmas, we don’t cut off more than we should:

We fear disappointment, so we don’t allow expectancy.

We condemn vanity and accidentally minimize the value of true beauty.

We outrun overwhelm by refusing to make preparations.

We reject sentimentality, and unwittingly also squelch communion.

Lord, in a culture that elevates nostalgia as the way to return home, help us listen to the rhythms of your heart. Give us wisdom and creativity as we feebly attempt to bring heavenly inspired comfort into our homes to ignite sparks of true wonder that lead to imperfect but sincere, beautiful gladness.


Traditions seem to elicit both love and hate. We know the suffocating deadness of rote ritual.  But when filled with life and love, traditions tell us who we are. They teach us what to expect, what comes next, and knowing what comes next allows us to anticipate its coming before it arrives. And anticipating good things before they arrive gets at the very heart of hope. So let’s practice hope together with our babes. 

Confidently bring your little people face to face with all the seasonal sparkle, sights, and sounds and introduce them to the language of delight. Foster a sense of what it means to experience belonging together in your family, then ask God to create longing in their little hearts for connection to their heavenly heritage of hope!

Lord, nurture our simple offerings of home. We ask you, Holy Spirit, to alight and rest on them, so these precious souls in our care can begin to experience the real of you as we treasure, adore, and walk out ever-deepening welcome of glorious King Jesus.

Do you have a favorite family tradition? I would love to know!

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