“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart.” – Helen Keller
When I was eight years old, my sister and I – along with a family friend my sister’s age – ventured out into the neighborhood after a heavy snowfall.
While meandering through the un-shoveled snow bundled up like Eskimos, we came across a large evergreen tree whose branches were burdened by the heavy snowfall.
Sadly, one branch had broken off from the stress of the frozen precipitation – now sticking straight up from the snow like a sapling sprouting from the earth.
The broken branch immediately reminded me of a mini-Christmas tree. Being three years younger than my sister, I asked if we could take it home and decorate it. She agreed with my perception and provided no objections.
Though my mother was less than pleased that we were carrying a wet tree branch through the house, she smiled as we made our way down the basement stairs to our playroom.
The three of us stood the branch against the wall, tucked a blanket around its base to act as a stand and skirt and then wrapped a set of multi-colored mini lights around it.
Because the branch only stood about three feet tall from the basement floor, there were a lot of lights left over. We gathered some push pins from the desk drawer and began artfully attaching the extra lights to the wood paneling until there were none left.
Then it was time to light up our holiday display. Our playroom had no windows so it was as dark as could be when we turned off the lights and plugged in the multi-colored strand.
Suddenly, the room came alive. Our little Charlie Brown Christmas tree no longer looked like a scrawny, broken off branch. In the darkness, adorned with nothing but an old strand of lights, it looked beautiful.
Covered in blankets, the three of us sat there on the floor for what seemed like hours – marveling at the peaceful beauty created by nothing more than a string of lights, the darkness and a fallen tree branch.
Rebecca Cooper writes, “It’s in the white space – the in-between moments of stillness – where the joy of Christmas is found.”
Even some 35 years later, I still remember the heavy snowfall of that day and the moment of stillness we all felt in front of that little tree.
Today, it serves as a reminder to me during the holiday season to enjoy the white space.
The simplicity that comes from turning off all the distractions and marveling at the peaceful beauty created by nothing more than a string of lights, the darkness and a fallen tree branch.