Christmas tree shopping not what it once was

By Curtis Shelburne

Well, I get to go look for a Christmas tree this evening. I’m not looking forward to the looking.

My wife has been making noises about this trip for several days. She’s giving me time to come to terms with the inevitable. She knows I’d rather eat turnip greens than go shopping for a Christmas tree. I’d rather be home with the flu because at least I’d be home. She knows that the only shopping that I like is the kind done with a computer screen and a mouse where you never leave the house. She also knows that the two sons who are here with us right now from Africa don’t want to go. They would rather take their chances with mango flies and relapses of malaria a few continents away than spend much time in an American, or any other, mall.

My wife does not understand why we are resistant to such a trip. She honestly does not understand why we are thrilled that the trip has been, through what the guys and I think are acts of God, postponed for two days already. We three don’t want to go. This wonderful selfless Christian woman who has made our home happy and warm for decades doesn’t care. Barring a bona-fide miracle, we’re heading Christmas tree shopping tonight for a new plastic tree.

When I was a kid, I could hardly wait to go Christmas tree shopping. It was a wonderful time. Dad would lead the family expedition over to the Boy Scout Troop 80 Christmas tree lot in Amarillo. It was usually cold. As often as not, some snow would be on the ground, and there would always be a warm fire in an old barrel with shoppers and tree-selling scouts huddled around it. Picking a great tree always took some time, but we’d finally load it up and head home with tree sap on our hands and the wonderful smell of pine boughs in our nostrils, evidence that we’d successfully found a tree.

What we will find tonight will smell like dust and plastic. It will not come from any mountain. It will likely come from China.

I grant you, the fake trees are a lot better than they once were. But even the high dollar ones — which will not be the kind we will buy — will deserve the name Polyethylene more than they will deserve the name Tree.

Ah, well. I still love the season. And, yes, I still love my wife. The amazing thing is that she still loves me.

I admit it: The tree we end up being really pretty, though it will never end up being a real tree. But because God’s son lay down his own desires and went to a real and terrible tree, the joy that God will bring this season to his people will indeed be the real thing.

Curtis Shelburne is pastor of 16th & Ave. D. Church of Christ in Muleshoe. Contact him at