Why I Took Down Our Tree Two Weeks Before Christmas

tree

I cocked my head to the side as stared down our tree. It’s limbs were bent from little hands which eagerly rearranged the haphazard ornaments on a daily basis. Glaring holes where ornaments used to be displayed were eyesores. Expensive snowman ornaments smiled at me, almost in a mocking way. I shook my head in disgust, wondering just what I thought I was doing.

A few years ago, my family decided to no longer celebrate Christmas for Christ. This decision wasn’t made lightly, and it originated from many years of changing our celebration to better focus on Jesus. You see, at first, we fully embraced all of the holiday traditions, including Santa Claus. After a few years of that, I felt convicted that we were lying to our children and I came clean about Santa, and we put our focus on Jesus. We did this for several years, until convicted yet again that while good intended, Christmas really wasn’t about Jesus.

Time for a Holy Spirit Led Change

I remember very clearly a discussion that I had with my agnostic brother during my “keep Christ in Christmas” phase. He told me that Christians had “borrowed” many traditions from pagan festivals, such as the date December 25th, tree decorating, stockings, gift giving, caroling, etc. I didn’t believe him at first, but then I did my research. He was right.

We didn’t do presents at Christmas at all the next year, we kept some decorations sans mention of Jesus’ birth. My heart is to worship the Lord in spirit and in truth (John 4:24) as closely as the New Testament church did. Worship of God doesn’t involve sights, sounds, and tastes that are pleasing to our flesh, and we are taught in Deuteronomy 12:4 that we must not worship the Lord in ways that the pagans worshipped their gods.

In steps Kirk Cameron. While I didn’t watch his movie, Saving Christmas,  I participated in a few lively conversations on his Facebook page. He mentioned that we have the liberty to celebrate Christ in Christmas, and that those who didn’t were acting like the pagan gods were real. Whoa now. This made me stop and scratch my head. Of course the pagan gods weren’t real…what harm was it to participate in a few traditions?

I Still Decorated in Vain

I overlooked the passage in Jeremiah about the customs of people being futile and vain… “For the customs of the peoples are futile; for one cuts a tree from the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the ax. They decorate in with silver and gold; they fasten it with nails and hammers so that it will not topple.” (Jeremiah, 10:3-4) Instead I focused on the passages in God’s Word that mentioned trees decorating His sanctuary. Decorating trees in my home surely wasn’t idolatry, was it?

The problem with this is, natural trees that the Lord created are beautiful and perfect. Just like so many other things in my life, I try to add my own touch to it, and the result is a sloppy mess. I had the best of intentions when I put up our tree. I decorated it with snow and snowmen, completely void of references to Christ. But doing so was futile…it was done in vain. I was decorating this tree while thinking about my liberty in Christ, instead of pondering the well-used phrase, “What Would Jesus Do?” Would Jesus decorate a tree in His home in any form or fashion?

Why did I continuously turn to pleasant sights, sounds, and tastes to be fulfilled, when true fulfillment only comes from the Lord?

Putting My Idol Back Where it Came From

While I balked at the idea that decorating a tree was idolatry, in a way, it was in my heart. I wanted to give my children a beautiful tree in our living room. I painstakingly purchased an abundance of decorations…that money would have been much better spent on other things. I thought of my children’s faces of delight when a new gift was discovered underneath the tree.  While I could have decorated the tree with things of the Lord, I truly believe that God would be grieved if I did so, since He does not want to be worshipped in ways that false gods have been worshipped in the past.

And it had indeed become an idol.

Anything that takes our focus off of the Lord is an idol, and I need to remove these things from my life! I decided to remove the tree from our living room.

My husband arrived home, and didn’t notice anything at first. After about an hour, he whispered into my ear. “Where is our tree?”

I sheepishly smiled while I replied, “In the basement.”

He nodded his understanding.

Honestly, I probably need to throw the tree away, otherwise, I will be tempted to place it back into our living room next year. My flesh is so weak, ladies!

What I’ve Learned

As always, I’m always learning new ways to better serve our Lord. During this tree fiasco, the most important thing that I’ve been reminded of is to not let my mess interfere with God’s beautiful plan. I am always trying to add my own “special touch” to the plans the Lord has for me. When I do so, I mess things up! God’s way is perfect, all of the time. I must look to Him solely in all things!

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Written by Nicole

NICOLE CRONE enjoys writing encouragement for moms in which God is glorified at her blog, Children are a Blessing. She is wife to Rusty, and mom to eight sweet children. Nicole has been a homeschool mom for thirteen years, and is currently a member of The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew. When Nicole isn’t homeschooling, you can find her writing, reading, sewing, or blogging at www.childrenareablessing.org. She is active on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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About Nicole

NICOLE CRONE enjoys writing encouragement for moms in which God is glorified at her blog, Children are a Blessing. She is wife to Rusty, and mom to eight sweet children. Nicole has been a homeschool mom for thirteen years, and is currently a member of The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew. When Nicole isn’t homeschooling, you can find her writing, reading, sewing, or blogging at www.childrenareablessing.org. She is active on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

27 Thoughts on “Why I Took Down Our Tree Two Weeks Before Christmas

  1. Within the context of Jeremiah 10 I don’t believe that it is referring to a Christmas tree at all, it is referring to them making little statues from the tree’s wood and covering them with gold to worship-just like many of their other idles.

    I personally don’t think that God is in heaven worried about Christmas tree’s and decorations as much as He is worried about souls and our relationship with Him. We can loose sight of that all too often when we focus on the minute things.

    That’s my opinion, anyways. We all answer to the Lord and need to make sure that we are pleasing Him first and foremost when we need to give an answer to Him one day – not the people around us!

    • That wasn’t quite my point, but thank you so much for your input and stopping by, Ana! 🙂 Basically I was saying that since God looks at our heart, decorations we put up are in vain and for our own benefit. So many people equate the decorations with worship, but they are not. I would do well if I would remember this, and not try to add my own “special touch” to God’s creation (trees) and in all situations in my own life. I do have a small tree with white lights only that I left up as a nice winter decoration for my home.

  2. Interesting post. Quite bold of you to share if I say so myself. Our stories are similar. We did the typical Xmas stuff like Santa, presents, etc. The next year we got saved and changed it all up to being Christ focused and limited our presents to 3 a piece. The next year we gave up the tree, decorations, and realized how silly it was to try to worship God on a pagan holiday. His word clearly tells us to not learn the way of the heathen. We kept the tradition of giving 3 presents. The Lord slowly worked on our hearts and come this year we will not be doing anything. It’s just another day to us. Xmas (Christmas= Christ+mass=no thank you) is a vain tradition of men. There is no scriptural warrent for it. In fact, we are commanded to learn not the way of the heathen. We choose to not participate in Xmas for the same reasons we don’t partake in Halloween, hannukah, etc. It doesn’t honor Christ. We can’t choose how we worship Him. There’s a pot more to say on this topic and quite a few scripture references to share but unfortunatly my time is short. I applaud your for posting on such a controversial topic.

  3. Fantastic- thanks for sharing. We re-evaluate a little every year and I appreciate your public stance on this item. We sort of had a little tree one year, but I felt rather strange about it, and we mostly do winter decorations. This has been a recent discussion in our home with our own kids- discussing why we do or do not do various things associated with the holidays of our culture and of the world. If you have any resources that have been helpful to you in regards to the historical aspects of Christmas, I would appreciate the opportunity to consider them as well. The only thing I’ve really taken in thus far is a two-hour piece on YouTube. It appeared to be well-researched and was informative, however, the presenter has had some questionable issues related to his use of his church’s finances. God does look on the heart, however, the things we participate in and associate ourselves with matter as well.

    As believers, what are we to remember? The birth of Christ was certainly an occasion to celebrate (or God wouldn’t have had the angels singing His praise and glory in full view of the shepherds, but we are not instructed to remember it. The one thing we are asked to remember as believers is the Lord’s death.

    “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.” I Corinthians 11:26 (Luke 22:14-20)

    We can do that every Sunday- no waiting for once-a-year.

  4. Thank you for sharing! My husband was raised outside the USA and became a Christian after moving to the states for several years. He “challenged” me on the “Christmas traditions” of the church and in this country and I did a lot of research as well when we were first married.
    Now, this year for schooling, we are reading Augustus Caesar’s World (by Genevive Foster) and it mentions Saturnalia and red stockings, etc. This as BEFORE Jesus birth. So, yes, we’ve “borrowed” a lot from pagan festivals.
    Everyone has to do as convicted. Can a Christian have a tree and many of the traditions? Sure. But, like why you choose to homeschool, be sure to research and know what is right for YOUR family. We’ve not put up a tree or decorated for Christmas. My husband is the pastor of a Baptist church and they have trees and decorations in the church. We have to “pick our battles” and so we have discussions with our kids about why we don’t do some of the things they see others around us doing. But the same goes for Halloween and other “traditional holidays”.

    Again, thanks for sharing! I just discovered you from Titus 2 Tuesdays!

  5. What a bold stance and post. We have a tree in our house with pretty lights and decorations BUT it is fake. One thing hubby and I agreed on when we got married. We live where cutting down a tree and dragging it on a sled through the snow is tradition. In fact we are surrounded by 3 tree farms. It seems so sad to cut down a tree to only throw it out a few weeks later. That tree took years to get that tall and pretty and now it is a pile of wilted boughs and browned needles. I think the biggest thing to remember is that God is looking at our hearts. What are we doing when we celebrate Christmas. We have always told our kids that Jesus wasn’t born on December 25th but that is the day we celebrate it. In our opinion it doesn’t matter if pagans did something years and years ago that eventually got passed down as tradition, if we as Christians are focusing on the true meaning of Christmas and instilling those Christian values in our kids.

  6. You know, I’ve always kind of hesitated to celebrate “Christ” in Christmas. The Christmas season is nowhere in the bible. We’re not commanded to celebrate Christ’s birth in this way. We have no example of anybody in the New Testament celebrating Christ in this way. And I believe that we should celebrate Christ’s birth, life, ministry, death, burial, and resurrection EVERY day of the year! My church does a great job with not emphasizing Christ’s birth at Christmas. We have no special Christmas services, we don’t decorate the building in any way

    With that being said, I think the Christmas season is wonderful for so many reasons. But it’s dangerous. I think the theme of giving at Christmastime is fantastic. But it can easily turn into a theme of getting. I think the fact that the word “Christ” is in the word “Christmas” and the fact that many people say that “Jesus is the reason for the season” opens up a great opportunit to share His Gospel!

    But I completely agree with you that it’s a heart thing. God looks at our heart and if it’s in the wrong place. If we’re too worried about material things like our own wish list or our perfect Christmas tree. That’s when we have a problem. For me personally, I have an inward struggle of wanting to out do others (and myself from last year) in my gift giving. That’s so backwards.

    Anyway, thank you so much for your words. May God bless you and your
    family!

  7. I love your statement about not letting our messes interfere with God’s beautiful plan!

  8. This was an extremely interesting read! Thanks so much for sharing, I know things like this can be extremely delicate and it takes boldness to put it out there.

  9. We’ve been ‘tree-less’ three years now and haven’t looked back. For years I used to dread putting up the tree and always wondered why. Sure, it was pretty to look at afterwards, but why didn’t I enjoy putting it up. I started questioning the fact of why I was even putting one up? What did it have to do with the birth of Christ at all? We know that Christ wasn’t even born Dec 25th either.

    Our ‘decorations’ have been depleted to just candlesticks in the front windows and we are fine with that. Jesus is the light and we are to represent His light in us. Honestly, if we are going to say we are remembering His birth, there wasn’t any extravagance in His birth. The angels appeared to the shepherds and returned back to heaven. They were not present at the birth nor were the Magi. We have simply followed traditions that our parents taught us to do…without question.

    Question is, if we can’t live without a tree at Christmas…has it become an idol to us then?

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  12. I would be quicker to refer to I Corinthians 8 when thinking over issues like this. To me it is a better parallel. Christmas trappings do not work one way or the other towards commending us to God (vs 8). Titus 1:15 is also a good one.We don’t do all the crazy Santa stuff. Yet we also know that Christ is not the true meaning of Christmas. A balance is nice. I hope that you can find a way to peacefully pass the Christmas season.

    • Nicole on January 4, 2016 at 10:44 am said:

      Thanks for sharing, Rachel! Personally, I don’t feel like those verses parallel because they are regarding the lifting of dietary requirements, but thanks for sharing your thoughts. Blessings!

      • Rachel on January 7, 2016 at 2:30 pm said:

        The passage from Corinthians is in regards to food offered to idols. So I thought it paralleled fabulously! Many of the traditions of the holidays are leftover from pagan culture. But, just like it didn’t mean the food should be tossed, neither does it mean that the trees must be tossed. Of course the most important is to do what God puts on your heart. And in this grey area, like consuming food offered to idols, to participate or not are both acceptable responses. Biblically.

        • Nicole on January 7, 2016 at 4:10 pm said:

          I guess I disagree since Paul was saying if you are in the market, purchase whatever meat is available, eat whatever, but don’t ask questions for conscience sake. He didn’t say it was okay to go into the temple and worship Jesus in the same way idolaters were worshipping their gods. The way we worship matters. What Paul is saying would be parallel to me eating leftovers from a neighbor’s Xmas gathering, or using leftover wrapping paper from my friend’s Xmas celebration to wrap my husband’s birthday present in my opinion. I believe that Biblically, we shouldn’t use decorated trees to celebrate Jesus. Now if you are just decorating a tree for the fun of it…I would say we have the liberty to do that. 🙂

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