A Different Kind of Joy {Than Mine}

29846_1376909457-joy“It’s very likely his joy doesn’t look like yours,” my friend leaned in gently over her cup of coffee and counseled. “I’ve learned over the years that my husband’s joy looks different than mine.”

So, we had an epic Groupon fail this year for a Christmas tree. But let’s back up and get the full story: Before the Groupon fail, we’d had a budget fail. The Fall had been ruthless on the budget. Actually had been ruthless on the budget because when I am stressed and feel paralyzed in life, I tend to stop watching over that which I am supposed to care for–living things excluded–mostly talking inanimate objects here. Think house, budget, dishes, etc. 

So the wife Fall had been ruthless on our budget and here we were at Christmas time without much a tree budget and I decided coupons are great so Groupon is awesome and we did the voucher: $20 off a $40 tree. I read all the fine print. I compared the genres of trees and determined that my husband would be pleased: We’d be able to get a 6-7′ fir tree.

The 24-hour stomach bug came violently through a family of seven, and so a week later we venture out to Tree Town Wonderland to get our tree. It was sort of a blind date to Tree Town because, while  normally we’d have checked out the website, Tree Town’s was {according to AVG} infected with 3 different viruses. We’d had enough virus in this house for one week, and really, who was going to be picky when someone handed us a free $20?

So the Green family was off. {Minus our oldest who was ashamedly still puking downstairs. But to our credit we cleaned the bucket for him before we left and promised not to decorate until he was better. Maybe I do neglect living things.}

I knew when we pulled up that this was going to be a disaster. It’s time for more backstory.

My husband is a tree nut. Not a walnut or pecan or something like that, but a literal Christmas Tree fanatic. In fact, we have a system for weeding out true family friends from the lightweights: We take them tree hunting with us.

Last year, someone drove my husband around for 7.5 hours through Colorado National Forest with three girls under the age of 7 years old in the back hanging on for dear life and screaming their need to go pee.

One year, we wandered the woods for 2.5 hours with friends who had found their tree {it came with a free bird’s nest that made up for the missing limbs!} in less than 15 minutes.

The tree nest family passed the test and if memory serves the correctly, the following year the husband went tree hunting with my husband not once, but twice, proving his loyalty as a friend as he helped my husband find the perfect tree.

We’ve accidentally wandered on to private property in our search–found the perfect tree–and had to leave it behind according to the No Trespassing signs on a sister tree, a couple fence posts, and hanging from the barbed wire.

My husband desires the perfect tree and settles for nothing less than the following attributes: It’s alive. It smells good. It’s shape is perfect. It has no more than one bare spot. It has great hanging branches. It’s not a pine. And preferably, it’s life is terminated by his very own saw. So far, South Dakota wins.

All I can say is I’m glad he’s not as picky with his women as he is with his tree. It’s a wonder he married me.

Back story over.

As we pulled up to Tree Town Wonderland I wondered if I was the only one who realized the trees were already bound in their nets. Also, was this a putt-putt place gone wrong? I slowly pulled the van in the parking spot and wisely said, “I’ll sit with the baby until you find one you like.”

Three minutes later I saw my husband walking back toward the van and the kids were running to keep up.

“They false advertised,” he said.

“How could they advertise at all with that infected website?”

“But their Groupon was wrong. We’re leaving.”

I have enough of my father in me to know I’m not wasting $20–technically $40. “We’re not leaving without a tree,” I insisted.

“The cheapest tree in there is $100 and it’s ugly.”

“I’m not leaving without a tree,” I yanked the Groupon from his hand and marched up to Santa’s elf. “Excuse me, what kind of tree can I get with this Groupon?”

Ten minutes later, I had my pre-bundled tree ready to go and Santa’s elf threw it in the trunk for me.

As I hopped back in the driver’s seat my husband’s jaw had dropped. “What’s in the trunk?”

“Our tree,” I answered, matter-of-factly.

“You just put our Christmas tree in the trunk?” Obviously he was amazed.

“What? It fits perfectly.”

“How tall is it?”

“Obviously shorter than the width of our trunk.”

“Take me to Lowe’s. I’m buying a real tree.”

And at this moment…our joy started to look a whole lot different from each other.

After 18 hours of arguing over money and trees and the true meaning of Christmas, after 18 hours of each of us threatening not to decorate the other person’s tree {we not only have a lot of children, but we are also good at acting like children ourselves} we threw the 4.5′ tree out in the front yard and my husband left for Lowes.

I stewed. It was Christmas. Who cares about an imperfect tree? Who cares if my tree was on a coffee table and still the top was eye level? Who cares if I took branches from the bottom and stuffed them throughout the bare spots? Who cares that it had fallen over twice already because the trunk had an ever-so-actually-very-strong-angle in it? Who cares if it was a rip-off or false advertising?

It’s Christmas and it’s not about the tree, it’s about Jesus. I find my joy in releasing the things that don’t really matter and embracing those which do. I find my joy in Jesus.

And I stewed over the seeming discrepancy between my husband’s priorities and my own until my friend leaned in over her coffee and counseled, “Sometimes our husbands’ joy looks different than our own.”

He came back from Lowes with a 8′ Noble fir for $25. Either it was an error, or the salesperson felt horrible that my husband lived with such a stubborn woman.

But it’s the best tree we’ve ever had and we’ll decorate it tonight as a family.

It turns out that my husband finds his joy in excellence. Christmas is a chance for him to give God, to give his church, and to give his family the very best of himself. It’s his offering, it’s his pleasure, and it’s his joy.

It turns out that, while my joy comes from releasing and letting go, I was letting go of the wrong things this Christmas. I was willing to let go of the perfect tree, but not the point I was arguing with Nathan. I was willing to let go of unity during the very season we celebrate that Jesus came for all. What’s more is that I was unwilling to release my desire that my husband be more like me rather than more like Him. 

When I look at our lives, I see imperfections. I look at our marriage and I see small cracks and blemishes. I look at our ministry, and I see the wonder of God’s grace–allowing us, all broken, to do what we do.

I look at our tree and I see the theme of our family, “Jesus, we give the best that we can find. Let the aroma be pleasing to you.”

photo (1)
And…Nathan’s tree. Okay, so its obviously the better tree and after all, it keeps the tradition of “We Be Crazy” alive.
Obviously my tree. It looks so awesome because of all those extra branches I stuffed in there!
Obviously my tree. It looks so awesome because of all those extra branches I stuffed in there!

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