Last year, feeling strapped, I bought a small Christmas tree at the sidewalk lot across Columbus Avenue.

I felt a bit foolish bringing it home. But once we loaded it with lights and ornaments and surrounded it with love, the tree blossomed in our midst. (See photo.)

This year, armed with a bit more cash, my youngest son and I walked down Ninth Avenue to 49th Street and found a lot selling all of its trees for $20, one-quarter what I had expected to pay.

We selected one still wrapped in its netting. When we got it home and unwrapped it, we discovered a magnificent tree – tall, well-shaped and not dry.

Two trees, two lessons in grace.

First, grace comes by love, not by purchase. The “best Christmas tree ever” is the tree that love trims. Same with people. The best partner is the one whom you love and who loves you back. The best children are the ones who blossom in your love. The best friends are the ones who love you no matter what. The best church is the one that gives itself away in love. The best Christmas sermon is the one a preacher humbled by life and inspired by God shares in love.

Second, grace comes by surprise. God does what God will do. Rather than try to control God in order to feel safe, we can let God be God. We can see with delight what happens. Who knows what we will find when we unwrap life?

Blessings on you!

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