This last year, shortly after Christmas, we had our insurance agent, Jim, into our home. When he went into our living room, he saw our Christmas tree in the corner, all decorated. His response surprised all of us. “You have a Charlie Brown Christmas tree,” he said. I didn’t say much to his comment, but I realized he was right.

Tom Heck, his wife, Joanne, and their two children own and operate a dairy farm in Wisconsin. Ord...

We’re all familiar with Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree. Charlie gets a little pine tree that’s about 2 feet tall with only a couple limbs on it because that’s all he can get.

When Joanne and I were first married, I worked as a hired man on my parents’ dairy farm, and money was very tight for us. So I asked my dad if I could cut a pine tree off of his land for a Christmas tree.

He said, “Yes,” and so we did that the first two years we were married. After the second year, we bought our own farm, and money was still extremely tight, so we started cutting a pine tree out of our woods every year for Christmas.

Now, a pine tree cut out of a regular woods does not look at all like a regular, bought Christmas tree. It has very few limbs and has never been pruned. But it’s what we could afford, and the meaning of Christmas isn’t the Christmas tree or what’s under it anyway.


Our tree did beat Charlie’s though; it was 7 to 8 feet tall and had several more limbs than his. But I do grant you, it did not begin to look like a bought tree. That did not bother us at all, though.

To make it more fun for our small children back then, I told them that Sam, my big teddy bear, would make a trail for us ahead of time to the perfect tree for us. What kind of trail does a bear make, you ask? Well, he gives a long list of clues for the kids to figure out.

Such as: Go to the place where we caught our last coyote, then go to a big hollow oak tree and then to a big fallen-down pine tree and so forth. After about 20 clues, we would come to the tree that Sam had picked out for us for our Christmas tree. This was always Sam’s gift for us. And the kids loved it.

We would usually go as a family, right after Thanksgiving when there was a little snow on the ground, to get our tree. When our kids were small, they were all excited about finding Sam’s Christmas tree in the “big woods.”

Even though our kids are grown now, we still do it the same way; it’s still a lot of fun. Once we had the tree sawed down, we would sing Christmas carols on the way back home. We always had such a wonderful time doing this as a family. We have many wonderful, priceless memories from over the years of doing this.

After a number of years, when we were more blessed financially, I offered to buy a nice, well-pruned Christmas tree in town. My family was shocked. They absolutely did not want a bought tree. The tradition we had started out of necessity had become so cherished and special that they wanted nothing to do with a bought tree. So that is why we’ve always had a Charlie Brown Christmas tree. And I expect we always will.

It isn’t the Christmas tree or the presents under it that make Christmas. We certainly love to give gifts to one another and put them under our special tree. In our early married years, we had very little money and thus we could buy very few gifts, but that didn’t matter a lot. We had the greatest gift of all – Jesus – the real meaning of Christmas.

God started Christmas by giving us the greatest gift ever given – His Son Jesus. And God sent His angel to tell a bunch of sheep farmers about it. The Bible says in Luke 2:8-12:

8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a sheep farmer, a dairy farmer or somebody else; God has given you the greatest gift in the whole universe – His Son Jesus. Many people at Christmastime try to replace Jesus with beautiful trees and expensive presents, but that doesn’t work.

In our home and on our dairy farm here, we have Jesus in our hearts and so we have a wonderful, blessed Christmas every year – even with a Charlie Brown Christmas tree. PD

Tom Heck, his wife, Joanne, and their two children own and operate a 35-cow dairy farm in Wisconsin. Contact him by email or order his new book at his website.

Photo by Thinkstock.