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Hillary Ibarra compares our Advent journey to an unconventional Tumbleweed tree.

My family and I live in the Southwest. Unusual traditions abound here during Advent and Christmas, and not just the luminarias (Christmas lanterns made with paper bags, sand, and votive candles) that line city plazas, driveways, and rooftops.

Every year in our former hometown in Arizona, a giant tumbleweed tree is erected in the town square. The tree is built through a laborious, painstaking process of fitting hundreds of tumbleweeds around a 25-foot wire frame. It is a bizarre but beautiful tree, wound with thousands of lights and topped with a huge star, palm trees framing it in the background.


tumbleweed Christmas tree, Chandler, ZA (Public Domain)


We live in New Mexico now. Tumbleweeds have their calling here, too, as they’re used to build a giant 12-foot smiling snowman, complete with scarf and ballcap, by the highway.

I like these unique southwestern markers of the season, because in December I often feel like a tumbleweed, blown about by capricious winds that arise from my stress, my knowledge of how I should be and how I am, and other complicated thoughts and feelings. My life, honestly, is full of tumbleweeds blowing around during Advent!

To me, Jesus is like the massive, sturdy frame they use to mold a beautiful tumbleweed tree in Arizona. When we human tumbleweeds are attached to Jesus, we become something truly remarkable instead of being at the mercy of this crazy, befuddled world with its wacky priorities. We cling tightly to each other and build each other up, working together to make Jesus wonderfully present to the world during this holy time. We hang on confidently to our Frame when the winds of commercialism or relativism or discouragement whip through our neighborhoods.

Instead of being Advent tumbleweeds blown back and forth across an icy December highway, juxtaposing merriment and disillusionment, we are the humble but effective framework pointing people to Christ and His promises at Christmas.


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In December I often feel like a tumbleweed, blown about by capricious winds that arise from my stressand other complicated thoughts and feelings. #catholicmom

There will be times when we find ourselves loosed from our Frame during Advent, tumbling about again in arid conditions, discouraged and confused. Those times call for renewed prayer and trust in God’s goodness, mercy, love, and peace. We pray with confidence for God to attach us once more to His beautiful frame of hope and purpose.


Advent tumbleweed tree


This Advent my hope for all our families is that whatever is missing in our relationship with God, whatever keeps us from being solidly attached to His mercy and grace, whatever keeps us feeling like an errant tumbleweed, we will ask Jesus to fix it, and fix us to Him and His beautiful plan for us this Advent and always.

Copyright 2021 Hillary Ibarra
Image (top): Peter Bronski (Meiguoren at English Wikipedia), Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons; copyright 2021 Hillary Ibarra, all rights reserved.