The local hardware store, now that’s where you’ll find a deal on Christmas trees.  Sure! You’re flying blind on the whole first thing to look for is a straight trunk routine.  And maybe a gap or three in the belly of the tree, but hey…show of hands from those unashamed of their frugalness (totally a word!).

Hard to believe all of these green foliage torpedoes were indeed Christmas trees.  The nylon netting compresses the essence of each from the trunk up. How in the world would we even know what condition the boughs were in?  Surely the good people of our favorite building supply store don’t expect us to buy without knowing. Knowing the condition of the inside. Does the trunk curve?  The branches. The tiers of “whorls” (because I’ve done my research), are they all even there? Is there a strong tip-top steeple to hold the crowning glory?  We just can’t size-up a closed-up anything and expect much good.

So we didn’t!

Without much thought or blessing from the guy on the forklift, we started peeling away the tightly webbed wrapping.  Trunk…straight. Branches…decent. Steeple…or some might know it as, uh-um, the “terminal leader”, Yes! It was there, and such a ridiculous overachiever.  It would definitely need to be pruned to be strong enough to be crowned. Nobody wants to see a drooping, tuckered-out star. If the main thing is off-kilter, well then it messes up the beauty of all the rest.

Enough boxes were checked on our tree search.  We’ll take it!

Did you know that Christmas trees don’t naturally grow in a perfect $12 a foot conical shape?  Of course, you did! (Although we didn’t pay this at the hardware store!) And some trees really aren’t as green as they appear.  Yes! That’s right. It’s disgusting to think but some spray their trees so they appear bright and fresh, (cue music-“Maybe it’s Maybelline”) I have it from a good source that it takes a lot of sweat and know-how to supply the consumer with a tidy little Tannenbaum.   A friend of mine was raised on a tree farm and tells of sweating it out in the hot July sun, shears in hand, eyeing, evaluating, and WHACK! Pruning for the good of the design. 

If you really want to dive into the world of Horticulrism (totally not a word!), then you’re reading in the right place.  

With evergreens, there must be a central leader.  And oftentimes there is more than one in the running.  Once there is a well-developed leader, even that guy requires consistent monitoring and trimming, otherwise, the main stem will have several feet of nothingness.  I’m seeing a wide-open market for tree wigs here…first million, who’s in?

According to the Cooperative Extension Service of New Mexico State University & the U.S. Department of Agriculture, not only does the main terminal need tending, but so do the side branches.  Thinning competing boughs train the tree to grow in a most beautiful, dense conical-cone form. In fact, shearing increases bud set and forces strong sprouting. And always, pay much attention to forming a good bottom whorl.  Solid foundation.

Season followed by season.  Pruning, shearing, training, and by the ninth season, they’re ready to harvest. 

To quote my friend, Dr. J.K. Warrick, “We don’t get a trophy for producing fruit, we get pruned.”  And for many of us, the purging and trimming of what we think is our abundance, which perhaps makes us appear full and lofty, towering over the sad little seedlings, is in fact what must go.  

Winter, spring, summer, fall.  Winter, spring, summer, fall. Winter, spring summer, fall…  

Letting life bloom and grow and fall where it may.  By placing God as our foundation, the bottom “whorl” of our world, begins a good work within us.  And trusting His ways even when He removes some of what we feel is the best of us or the greatest of our lives.  Being confident to rest in the shade of all the good He has provided allows us to feel secure in knowing that our peace is not wrapped up, bound, and suffocated by the circumstance, it is simply preparing to flourish in season.

Our greatest potential and joy can be realized when we place total faith in the central leader and trust the training.   

“…and I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” (Philippians 1:6 NLT)

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