Dianne was a lovely vibrant woman, well loved by all her neighbors as well as her family in our
small rural community. She enjoyed a full life with never a thought that God would take her any
time soon. But one morning, she suddenly left us all to be with Him in heaven leaving us all in
shock.  As one would expect, the entire community came to console her grieving family, filling
their home with flowers, food and heartfelt sympathy for their loss. Every spare space was filled
with floral remembrances of their friend no longer present.

Leonard, her husband of twenty five years, shared with us their meeting so many years ago,
her pride in a wonderful collection of milk glass brightened every nook in their home, and the
gazebo he had just finished as a twenty-fifth anniversary gift for her. He mourned that she didn't
have time to plant the pine trees she hope to embrace the structure from which she would  gaze
at the Spring Mountains and enjoy quiet times of reflection. She never got to even sit in it.
Leonard was heartbroken at the loss of his beloved wife and the futility of the gift she would
never enjoy.

Looking at the abundance of floral offerings that would soon be gone as all cut flowers always
are, my husband and I pondered what remembrance we would like to give Leonard that would
last more than a week or two as would our love for Dianne. After much studying on the thought,
we bought a small ponderosa pine tree and brought it to him. He was moved to tears and, in a
few days, chose a good spot by the gazebo and planted it in memory of Dianne.

Now at this Christmastime, when everyone is searching for "the perfect gift", from personal
experience, may I suggest a "living gift" that will last long after the giving.  A tree may be planted
as a living memorial to a loved one who has been called Home. It will be nourished by the earth,
watered by the rain, and adorned with living ornaments – the birds in the yard, and even
more, will be alive with the music that God provides through the bird's songs. It will be in God's
care even as the departed loved one is.

Today, so much commercialism has overtaken the real meaning of Christmas that sometime we
feel the spirit of the First Christmas has been lost amid the ringing of cash registers and plastic
trees and greenery.  Everything is temporary and disposable to get ready for the next frantic
search for the "perfect gift".  A tree is a God-made gift carrying with it all the miracles of creation
from the Master's hand. No man can duplicate it; machines cannot imitate its symmetry or
aroma.  A tree is perfect without any wrapping or tinsel. One size fits all and the color is perfect
for any time of the year. It is the Perfect Gift crafted by the only One Who can make it perfectly
~ every time!

Each time a grieving survivor looks upon it, he will remember that is was a gift from another
grieving survivor to the memory of his ~or her ~ departed loved one. Another neighbor of ours
was given another pine tree by his children and as they planted it for their Dad, they called it
the Dorothy Tree! What a beautiful tribute!

If you have recently lost a loved one, it is my prayer that whether or not you have room for a
tree as a "Perfect Gift", you will be comforted by the Perfect Healer, our Lord, Jesus Christ in
whom all things are perfect.
A Living Christmas Gift
© Betty Sue Eaton


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