I like the fake candles. I also like fake Christmas trees, but try telling that to my family. All I said one Christmas was, “Could we possibly get an artificial tree this year?”
I promise, that is all I said. I don’t think it merited the response it got: “Communist,” said Sheri, Tyler, and Natalie. They booed and hissed. They weren’t through: “Scumbag. Scrooge.” They put me on eBay: “Husband and father for sale. Cheap. Will throw in artificial tree.”
All of you who have artificial trees raise your hands. I’ve seen your trees, and they are beautiful. Please extol the virtues of artificial trees to my family:
1) No arguments when picking out the tree from the lot;
2) No fussing about whether or not the tree is straight in that dad gum stand;
3) No needles stuck in the carpet making a one-inch incision in your foot in February;
and 4) No watering and no mess to clean up.
So, I asked the logical question to Sheri and the kids, “What are the advantages to a real tree?”
“The smell,” they said.
That’s it? The smell? So, we go through the hassle of numbers 1- 4 above for the smell? Are they kidding me? I volunteered to buy some air freshener that smells like a Christmas tree, but that too would be artificial, they said.
Some things you can fake; some you can’t. You can’t fake being a plumber. After a few flooded houses folk will figure out that you aren’t one. You can’t fake being a surgeon. After mistaking a heart for a lung, you will get booted out of the operating room. You can’t fake dentistry. Ouch!
You can fake being a preacher. In the words of Eugene Robinson, “I don’t know of any other profession in which it is quite as easy to fake it as in ours. [We can do it] by adopting a reverential demeanor, cultivating a stained-glass voice, slipping in occasional words like ‘eschatology’ into conversation — not enough to confuse people, but enough to keep them aware that our habitual train of thought is a cut above the pew level.”
Fakery kills the soul.
“Tis the season to be artificial.” I don’t like fakery in preachers or in people. Don’t be fake and phony this Christmas. Be real, be open, be vulnerable, and be honest.
Once again this year, the Davises have a real tree, which comes with real arguments at the tree lot, real disagreements about whether it is straight or not, and real needles that get stuck in my real feet in February. But at least it smells good!
OK, I admit, real is better when it comes to trees and to life. Have a real Christmas.
Davis is pastor of the First Baptist Church in Carrollton.