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A Partridge in a Pear Tree
Christmas is different in the mountains. Down below there are lighting contests, fake Santas everywhere, office parties, house parties, caroling parties, shopping, various requests for charitable donations and reminders everywhere that, as Stan Freberg said, “There are two Ss in Christmas and they’re both dollar signs.”
Fewer of us are here at Christmas. Many of us spend the holiday with families far from our mountains. For those of us who hang around, though, there’s something wonderful and peaceful about Christmas in our valley.
Very often it snows, of course, which only adds to the quiet beauty. It also gives us a better opportunity to think about our many blessings.
My father preached a Christmas sermon every year in which he talked about the old Christmas song, “A Partridge in a Pear Tree,” long before that song became newly popular. He said he thought the song particularly appropriate because, after all, of what use is a partridge in a pear tree? Certainly not as useful as a new vacuum cleaner or handkerchiefs. “But then,” he said, “of what use was a baby in a barn?” His point was that the greatest gifts are those which have no other purpose than to bring joy to the recipient or to the world. And that might be a vacuum cleaner, or a toy, or a partridge in a pear tree, or a baby in a barn.
In our mountains it might be a chickadee in a pine tree, but you get the idea.
As time goes on more and more people come here, look around and ask, “What use is it?” Increasingly, they find uses for the wood, the water and even the rocks, which they haul away to become useful somewhere else. Our National Forest and Park have become support systems for various parts of our national and local economies, and we measure their success in terms of numbers of tourist days, and the cash in the till at the end of the season.
This place is surely the greatest gift we will ever have, with all its grandeur and majesty, on a snowy Christmas Day, perfectly, utterly as useless as a partridge in a pear tree, or a baby in a barn. And just as precious.
© 1985 – 2003, David E. Steiner
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