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The Powerful Lesson I Learned from a Crashing Christmas Tree: No Thing Is Sacred

If a Christmas tree falls and no one is at home, does it make a sound?

In early December, we arrived home to discover that the stand for our Christmas tree had broken and sent the tree and all the ornaments crashing to the ground. We started cleaning up, piling the items on the piano until we got a new tree.

Most of the ornaments survived, but a few did not. One that was shattered was made by our oldest son, John, last year as part of a school project. He voiced that he was upset that it was broken, but then went along with helping to clean up the mess. A while later, I noticed him with a tear-streaked face. He is not usually an emotional kid so it caught me off guard. I asked him what was wrong.

The tears started flowing as he said, “The ornament. I made it and now it’s broken.” I hugged him for a bit and then asked him if he was okay. He shook his head no and hugged even tighter. I was stuck in that paradox of being sympathetic for my kid but, at the same time, kind of grateful for feeling needed. (He is 7 after all and seems to think he doesn’t need hugs or to pose with Santa for a picture anymore.) I told him that we could get the instructions from his teacher and make a new one. We can fix it. Things can be fixed. (My fingers were crossed that it was not complicated because I am not crafty.)

It reminded me of a visit we had to Salt Lake several years ago. John was just under a year old at the time and he had just become proficient at walking. With his new independence, he seemed to get into everything. During our trip, we were staying with some friends and I was nervous about him making a mess of their house. As grandparents often do, they had a plethora of toys to keep John entertained.

Sensing my nervousness, I remember Sister McDonough repeatedly saying, “Nothing is sacred. He can play with whatever he would like.” It caught me a bit off-guard because their home felt like a sacred space. However, if you split the word “nothing” to “no thing,” it makes sense. It is not the things in their home, or any home for that matter, that make it sacred.

Of course, some decor can invite the Spirit and other decor can chase it away but, more so, it is the feelings and love shared within a family that create that spirit. In the talk, “For Peace at Home,” Elder Richard G. Scott discusses how it is our habits, decisions, and our focus that help us to keep our homes a sacred space. He says, “Be certain that every decision you make, whether temporal or spiritual, is conditioned on what the Savior would have you do. When He is the center of your home, there is peace and serenity. There is a spirit of assurance that pervades the home, and it is felt by all who dwell there.” As we focus on the feelings in our home, we are able to make it a sacred space. The words we use, the reverence we bring, the prayers we say, can all invite the Spirit into our homes more abundantly than any thing.

I frequently reflect on our weekend visit to our friends’ house and wonder the things I can do to bring that spirit to our home. I am grateful for amazing friends who help me to see the good things and set goals to live a more abundant life.

After the kids were in bed the night the tree broke, my husband went to the store to get a new one. The two of us hung the salvaged ornaments on the new tree to surprise the boys in the morning. John’s previous teacher not only gave us instructions but also the supplies to recreate his ornament. It did push my creativity skills, but we got it done. All the things have been replaced, and in the process, we seemed to have brought a bit more focus on that which is more sacred.

Lead image Richard Renaldi, blog.renaldi.com, retrieved via Business Insider

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Anne Maxson

Anne Maxson joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in 2002 and her life has been full of unexpected (and sometimes difficult to recognize) blessings ever since. She chronicles her experiences at annemaxson.com. She served as a missionary in the Virginia Richmond Mission. She has a doctorate degree in pharmacy and has written medical articles for livestrong.com. She has also contributed to the Ensign/Liahona magazine and has taught at BYU-Idaho's Education Week. She and her husband, Doug, have two children. Find her on Instagram @annemaxson.

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