I have seen many Christmas trees. Usually they have been topped with a lighted star or a lovely angel. But the most beautiful tree I have ever seen had a big red bow on top.
I wasn’t sure how to celebrate Christmas that year. My mother had been a widow for several years, and since I was single, we had continued many of our family traditions and had celebrated most of the holidays together. When my mother died just before Christmas, however, the old traditions suddenly seemed too painful without her.
Just before Christmas, the bishopric came to visit. They expressed concern about my being alone for Christmas. Looking around, the bishop asked why there was no Christmas tree or other decorations. I explained that I didn’t want to decorate a tree alone and so had decided not to have one. Christmas seemed so much of a family celebration that I thought ignoring it would be the best way to make it through the holidays.
After they left, I went about my work. But the bishop did not let the matter alone. He told the ward Primary president about his talk with me. I had just been called to teach the 11-year-old girls but would not start until the first of the year.
One afternoon, Michelle, one of the girls who would be in my class, called and asked if she could drop by the next evening about 7:30. I was surprised but looked forward to her company.
The doorbell rang at exactly 7:30, but it was not just Michelle who stood on my porch. It was all of the girls in my new Primary class—with a Christmas tree, lights, and decorations!
They pushed the large tree through the door and started setting it up in my living room. Their enthusiasm was contagious, and I was soon moving furniture to find just the right spot for the tree. I asked what I should do to help and was told to sit on the couch and just watch. My next two hours were filled with the holiday laughter and love that only 11-year-olds can create and share.
The girls told me their names and what part each had played in the project. Cindy showed me the hot-glue burns she had suffered while attaching ribbons to the backs of gingerbread ornaments. Amanda couldn’t come that evening, so she had gone with her mother to buy the tree earlier in the day. Bethany was the tallest, so she was in charge of the lights. Lindsay joined the decorating with a large box of candy canes. Rachel put a stocking filled with candy and a gift under the tree. And Michelle told me they had tried to find or make a star for the top of the tree but couldn’t, so they had brought a large red bow.
That bow topped one of the largest and most beautiful Christmas gifts I have ever received. Even before that tree was finished and lighted, my heart was full of the spirit of Christmas and of love for each girl in my future Primary class. That feeling was renewed each time I turned on the tree lights.
I have some new Christmas traditions now. I plan to have a tree every year, and it will always have candy canes, gingerbread ornaments—and a big red bow on top.