The Meaning of Christmas

Tree Lights

It’s a bit tricky to get photos that represent Christmas here in Oklahoma, or at least the traditional snow-covered-evergreens, kids-skating-on-ice, carolers-singing, mug-of-cocoa-by-the-fireplace Norman Rockwell-style version that many people think of at this time of year. While it is not exactly uncommon per se to get a storybook White Christmas around here, with highs anywhere in the 30’s to 50’s throughout December it is generally more the exception than the norm. So my challenge for this week, then, became one of capturing an image that represents Christmas given the constraints, not only of geographical location but of time, that I was facing. My solution was to shoot a picture of some decorations on our Christmas tree, but soon found that it was easier said than done.

I wanted to get a picture that felt cozy and evoked a sense of warmth and comfort, and to me this was best represented by a close-up image of our Christmas tree. I wanted to shoot it in the wee hours of the morning so I could get the glow of the lights without any other ambient lighting, and even though I was pointing my camera straight at some of the little colored bulbs I still had to use a tripod since the light output is so low. A few photos later I realized that shots of just the lights were not all that interesting, so I looked for a few ornaments to more or less anchor the photo and give the viewer something on which to focus. I liked this felt tree ornament, and shot it from a low angle to give it a more commanding presence in the frame. My hope is that the first thing you notice is the tree ornament, then the lights, and then the branches of the (fake) tree around it.

Taking this photo made me think of the artificial nature of everything around us, particularly at this time of year when we give, and ask for, so many man-made things. The Lord says in Matthew 24:25 that “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words shall never pass away.” It’s ironic that when we celebrate the birth of our savior Jesus we often do it with man-made gifts that are ultimately going to turn to rust and ashes, when in fact the true meaning of Christmas is all about a relationship with our Lord. It’s an eternal gift He gave to us that will outlast anything we can possibly have here on earth. I hope, then, that this photo is just one tiny reminder of Christmas and the real meaning behind it all.


  1. Thank you, I love seeing the photos you post each week, but knowing you are a Christian an not afraid to share the gospel just makes me enjoy your photos and blog even more. Christmas is about our Lord and Savior because without him we wouldn’t even have a reason to celebrate. Thank you for sharing your photos and stories. I hope you and your family have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

  2. Thank you for expressing your faith in that brief testimonial of your relationship with the Christ of Christmas. I am proud of you for expressing it so eloquently in a time when it is not publicly acceptable. Thank you for your photographic insights and knowledge. I will keep looking forward to your weekly emails. (By the way, instead of having a nifty fifty lens I have an Canon 85 which I understand is a counterpart.
    Blessings to you and your family.
    Bert Fedor in Birmingham, AL

    • Thank you for your kind words, Bert, and I know what you mean about sharing our testimonies in our modern culture. I appreciate the encouragement, and yes, that 85mm lens is fantastic! I hope to get one myself sometime in 2015 :)

  3. Larry Killer says

    Simon – I just started following your blog yesterday strictly from reading a post of yours that I received from the dPS website. I’m trying to figure out photography and I liked the way your post read and I figured I would check out your blog. (It also helped that you are from OSU!)
    That being said, the first thing that caught my attention was the commentary you have for each of your weekly postings. It really helps to draw the reader into what each picture is about. The second, and most important, is how you put scripture into what each photo means to you. It immediately struck something with me and in two short days I am already looking at how I should view photographs and composition. It puts a whole new spin on how to see things in a more postive, Christ-like manner.
    This Christmas post and how everything anymore is artificial and how the season is not necessarily being viewed by the world in the right reason is so true. ‘Political correctness’ has forced use away from the true meaning. Thank you for posting the way you do. Not too many people feel comfortable putting religion up front. Have a wonderful Christmas.

    • Thank you for your message Larry, and I am glad you like the commentary too. I often wonder how various photos were taken, and the thought process that went on in the mind of the photographer, so I figured if nothing else I would share these things from my perspective. Keep up the good work with your photography too! It seems like the more I learn about photography, the more I realize I actually don’t know. And the only way to keep learning is to get out there and practice :)

      I hope you had a very merry Christmas too!

  4. Nice and quaint, Simon. Merry Christmas and Jesus Loves You!

  5. Cindy Grohs says

    Thank you so much for the heartfelt and true meaning of Christmas you posted. Merry Christmas to you and your family. May Jesus Christ be praised.

  6. Thank you I needed that:)

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