Something for Nothing

The lesson of #Christmas hasn't changed: We get something for nothing. via @blestbutstrest
We won’t celebrate Christmas at home this year, and so we agreed (for the second year in a row) to forego purchasing a Christmas tree. Our first year in Arizona, I ended up buying a live tree—with the idea that we could keep it on our back porch and drag it in each December.

Of course, imagine my shock and sorrow when mid-summer all the needles fell off our beautiful little tree—despite the watering and care we had lavished upon it. Evidently, the salt content in our well water rises as the summer sucks all the moisture out of the land. Pine trees in planters don’t do well when watered with salty water.

Last year, we knew adopted a leftover little tree from a school event and hung a few ornaments on it. The house just seems more festive when you open the door at the end of a day and the smell of pine and twinkling lights greet you.

And so this year, the tug of trees warred in my heart again. I miss those years gone by when we would load the family into our 4Runner and venture out in the snowy hills of Nevada or Montana to ‘hunt’ for the perfect Christmas tree.

For nineteen years (with the exception of the cancer Christmas and the Cheyenne Christmas), the Ojeda family has spent a day together sometime after Thanksgiving battling the snow, enjoying hot chocolate in the great outdoors and arguing good-naturedly over which tree would fit perfectly into our living room. Our cost? A five-dollar Forest Service permit and a tank of gas that always resulted in a beautifully flawed tree. But the memories and traditions proved priceless.

While we enjoyed the Saturday night after Thanksgiving when we visited Home Depot and a tree lot in southern California to help our daughter and son-in-law find their tree, it didn’t satisfy my craving for a little Christmas cheer and smell in my house.

On Friday, I had to drive 30 miles away to the closest Wal Mart to pick up a prescription (did I mention that we live in the sticks?). I found myself wandering through the garden center, breathing in the smell of pine trees. I found a beautiful Noble Fir tree for thirty bucks, and I almost bought it on the spot—until I realized that it probably wouldn’t fit in my car. And we wouldn’t be at home on Christmas day to enjoy it. And I just couldn’t justify spending so much money on a tree that was already dead. And we had agreed that we wouldn’t have a tree this year.

I figured the next best thing would be a wreath—but they didn’t have any. And then I saw it. A pile of branches, cut from the bottoms of other people’s trees, neatly netted and just sitting there on the wet floor of the garden center. I found the outside cashier and asked, “How much for the greenery?”

“It’s free,” he answered, “how much of it do you want?”

“I’ll take it all,” I said, not realizing how big the bundle really was. He told me to pull my car around and he’d help me load it. I said I’d be back after I made my other purchases, and then hurried around the store finding what I’d need to make a wreath (they had sold out of the wire forms—I decided a door swag would look fine). I also purchased a roll of large garbage bags so I’d have something to protect the interior of my hatchback from the needles and water.

By the time I got my car pulled around, the nice young man had gone on break. I tracked down another garden center guy, and told him what the first young man had said about the greenery being free for the taking. He motioned to a door and said I could take it through there and out to the parking lot, but didn’t offer to help me move it.

I got something for nothing--all I have to do is ask. #Christmas Lessons via @blestbutstrest #InspireMeMondayI grabbed the netting handle and started to drag. The bag of greenery had looked small and manageable, but as I pulled it across the parking lot in the twilight, I realized it was heavier and bulkier than I had anticipated. I hoped no one would call the police and report that a crazy-haired older lady had been seen dragging a body around the Wal Mart parking lot.

I ended up with more than I asked for—enough greenery to decorate the tables for the staff Christmas on Sunday; plenty of greenery to make a swag for our front door; greenery to decorate the windows; and enough to share with my neighbors. Shoot, I probably have enough left over that I could cobble together a Christmas tree in the corner!I got something for nothing--all I have to do is ask. #Christmas Lessons via @blestbutstrest #InspireMeMonday

And then it hit me. That’s the lesson of Christmas—illustrated by my adventure in greenery hunting.

God sent his only Son to the earth to live, experience sorrow, pain and humiliation and ultimately an ignominious death on a cross to pay for MY sins. Jesus paid everything so that I could have forgiveness and a forever friendship with God. I got something for nothing—all I have to do is ask. (tweet this)

That’s the true meaning of Christmas. Don’t ever forget.

And now I’d love to hear from you!
What’s your inspirational story? Link up below, and don’t forget the 1-2-3s of building community:

1. Link up your most inspirational post from the previous week (just ONE, please).

2. Vist TWO other contributors (especially the person who linked up right before you) and leave an encouraging comment.

3. Spread the cheer THREE ways! Tweet something from a post you read, share a post on your Facebook page, stumble upon it, pin it or whatever social media outlet you prefer–just do it!

Please link back to this week’s post or add the button to your post so that we can spread the inspirational cheer :).

I found inspiration for my Monday at #inspirememondays. Join us! (tweet this)

So, go ahead! Take the plunge and share your most inspiring post with us!

Take a moment to visit the other hostesses, too! Angie, Cindy, and Denise.


Anita currently teaches English to 7th-12th graders. She describes herself as a ‘recovering cancer caregiver’ who gives thanks daily that her husband has been cancer-free for ten years.

Please note: We reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • I love your little door swag … for all of $1.97. Just too fun. And I’m partial to those lonesome little leftover trees that would just love a home for the holidays.

    Your post made me smile, Anita. You do, too!

    Blessings, friend …

    Linda@Creekside recently posted…On Modeling Advent for our Little OnesMy Profile

  • I have nothing to link today but I loved your tale. We got everything for nothing. Grace unending.
    Susan Shipe recently posted…the 7th day of christmasMy Profile

    • Thank you for your kind words, Susan :). You don’t have to write something new today in order to link up! Go ahead and just link your favorite post from last week (or from a long time ago back when you first started blogging and didn’t know much about link ups and/or have a big readership.
      Anita Ojeda recently posted…A Holiday Gift Exchange…Um, Giveaway!My Profile

  • Laura

    I love this! I’m so glad you found some Christmas cheer. You’re so resourceful, and I love the lesson tied in to this story. Hopefully one day we can hit the mountains with our trucks and canteens of hot chocolate again!

  • Oh I love this, friend! I can almost smell the pine from here! 😉
    ~Karrilee~ recently posted…Ahead of the Curve, or Beating Self Imposed Deadlines and NAILING it for the Holidays!My Profile

  • Oh WOW I love this Anita!! What an incredible example of receiving something for nothing – just asking 🙂 Thank you!
    Sarah Travis recently posted…Reason for the Season: Lead the WayMy Profile

  • So much to say…

    1. I always wanted to buy a live tree to use year after year. Never thought my well water might kill it. Thanks for the reality check. lol
    2. I just LOVE getting a good deal! I often feel like freebies are God’s little gifts to me, just to make me smile. Your story made me smile. 🙂
    3. “Christmas is about getting something for nothing.” Yes, yes, yes! Such a simple way to state an enormous truth.

    I could go on and on, but I’ll stop here. What a lovely Christmas post. Many blessings to you this Advent season!
    asheritah recently posted…The Best Lesson My One-Year-Old Taught MeMy Profile

    • We have really salty water here in the summer…my tomato plants only grew an inch the ENTIRE summer. I need to rethink my gardening ;). I hope you’re having time to enjoy the Advent season as well!
      Anita Ojeda recently posted…A Holiday Gift Exchange…Um, Giveaway!My Profile

  • Something for nothing, and I want to share this gift with others! So much striving and working and trying to earn a way through life in this world. Not with God. Thanks for this inspiring post, dear friend!
    Julie Lefebure recently posted…What I Learned This Week – December 6My Profile

  • Hi Anita! I really enjoyed reading your story of taking the leftover greenery. That’s me…taking the scraps. =) You are so right. We get it all … forgiveness, acceptance, love, life…for the asking…Free!
    My picture didn’t come through on the link. I’m so disappointed when I don’t get it right.
    Thank you for hosting Inspire Me Monday this week.
    Blessings of GREAT JOY and PEACE…in Jesus!
    Lisa Brittain recently posted…My Prayer for You*December 7, 2014*My Profile

    • Hey, thrifty people find uses for all kinds of ‘scraps’ (sometimes, we call it supper 😉 )! I hate it when technology misbehaves, too. Mostly because I have a love-hate relationship with it! Have a splendiferous week full of peace, grace and love!
      Anita Ojeda recently posted…A Holiday Gift Exchange…Um, Giveaway!My Profile

  • Anita,
    What a deal 🙂 And I love how you created so much loveliness for your family and for yourself 🙂 Yes, and what a gift God has given us…so immense and free, yet costly.
    Dolly@Soulstops recently posted…On Uncommon Grace (& Kezazah)My Profile

    • That’s what I love about this season–all of the ways that I’ve been given ‘something for nothing’ seem to keep popping out and bopping me upside the head. God’s lessons and the teaching methods never cease to amaze me!
      Anita Ojeda recently posted…A Holiday Gift Exchange…Um, Giveaway!My Profile

  • Loved this post, Anita. I’m not having a tree this year either, for various reasons, and it may be just my husband and myself for Christmas. At first I was horribly depressed about this, but it has forced me to examine what I’m really celebrating!

    • Thanks, Cindy! I know exactly what you mean about feeling depressed and then realizing that it’s not a celebration for a tree, but rather for the one who hung on a tree!

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  • “All we have to do is ask.” God is so good; we are so foolish at times to forget to even ask! Thanks for this reminder that great blessing comes with asking, regardless of his answer. Love what you did with the greenery. I miss having that smell in the house. We’ve had an artificial tree for years now (too many allergies).
    Lisa notes recently posted…Your voice is a divine giftMy Profile

    • :). There’s something about the smell of pine trees that always evokes good memories. I have a pine-scented candle that smells heavenly, too.

  • We have not because we ask not! We should boldly approach God for our salvation based on Christ’s work and then boldly approach him with our prayers as well. Thanks for sharing this story…I enjoyed it!
    Amy Jung recently posted…Born of a WomanMy Profile

    • Thanks for stopping by, Amy! It’s so easy to forget that we can be ‘bold’, isn’t it?

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  • Anita I love how you show that God can speak to us through our everyday experiences. What a great reminder that we all get something for nothing – new life!
    Julie Willis-Jones recently posted…Christmas Traditions Old and NewMy Profile

    • I love that every since Jesus came–God really is WITH us–speaking to us through the ordinary and mundane. We just have to train ourselves to listen.

  • I have always wanted to venture out to the woods somewhere to pick out a tree. I believe we’ve only done a live tree once or twice but I do love the smell of fresh pine. Your story truly made me smile. Wishing you and Merry, Merry Christmas. xoxo
    Beth (@SimplyBeth3) recently posted…His love and grace compels meMy Profile

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