The Privileged Life: Tinsel and Truth…Looking for the Real in Christmas

“And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” (Luke 2:7)

Our Christmas tree is a fake. A pretty good fake, but a fake nonetheless.

Gone are the lush spruces that graced our home for more than 20 years. But also gone is the trouble of finding a tree to fit in the room…fixing it in the tree stand so it wouldn’t fall over…getting on my hands and knees to keep it watered for weeks.

I do not miss the millions of dead pine needles on the floor from dragging out the tree skeleton after Christmas. Real trees are messy. 

Nowadays, we adorn our home with mostly artificial stuff. Plastic, paper, and polyester. Tinsel and tape. Glittery fluff snow. Stockings that would never fit real feet!

Don’t get me wrong. I love our happy decorations collected over the years, especially the tree ornaments. One of my favorites is a plastic reindeer with a broken leg and nail-polish-painted red nose from my childhood (now an “antique”).

I confess that I got tired of the messiness of real greenery. The fake stuff is neater, more orderly. Convenient. Fast and easy to set up or take down.

But I do miss the real things because they’re, well…real. There’s an earthiness to Christmas that gets lost sometimes in our wish to cocoon ourselves in comfort, when the inconvenient gets swallowed up in our pursuit of convenience. 

There was nothing fake about the original Christmas. Nothing neat and clean about this birth. Especially when the newborn was bedded down in a manger…had to be some stinky animals nearby.

Add some curious shepherds fresh from the fields, covered in grass, all leaning over the manger to get a closer look. New mom Mary? Could have been a little horrified if they touched him with their sheepy hands. 

When Jesus Christ arrived in our world, He left the perfection of a heavenly throne behind and entered our dirty, soiled, stained, smelly world. He grew up in the sawdust and sweat of a carpenter shop, walked miles on dusty roads, met with fishy fishermen, camped out on mountains.

His encounters with people were messy. They had all kinds of diseases (think leprosy), ailments, contamination. Filthy inside and out, with lots and lots of sin. Lots. People just like us.

Yet, through His forgiveness and sacrifice on a blood-stained cross, Jesus did something unthinkable—He cleaned us, thoroughly, forever, from our stains and wickedness. He made us as pure as a pristine snow. Like the literary “Velveteen Rabbit,” we were made real by Him.

Longing for something true this Christmas? Push aside the tinsel and look for the baby in the messy manger. Seek the genuine message of Christmas, His gift to you of life eternal. It’s a reality. So is His love.

May you have the privilege of celebrating Jesus as your Savior…and experience the unspeakable, authentic, true joy of Christmas.

Dearest Christ, we worship and glorify You as the King of Heaven. How we thank You for leaving Your holy sanctuary to dwell among us in the midst of our mess. Forgive us our sins, and cover us in the pure garment of Your righteousness. Be very real to us this Christmas! In Your name, Amen.

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© Copyright 2021 Nancy C. Williams, Lightbourne Creative (text and photography)

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

At least the “star” was once real cookie dough…petrified now, made by my great-niece several years ago! 🙂
My childhood Rudolph, broken leg and all…a happy memory of Christmases past
Another one of my faves…I love packing Operation Christmas Child boxes! (See my blog from Dec. 4, 2019–

One response to “The Privileged Life: Tinsel and Truth…Looking for the Real in Christmas”

  1. So good! I am afraid we don’t stop the fake at our decorations. Fake smiles, fake pretenses, fake joy. Kinda leads right into the posts I have for tomorrow and Friday about the illusion or infusion of joy. I sure hope to be real this Christmas. Thank you for sharing your heart on this!


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