I have a pink Christmas tree. Three short years ago I would have thought it was gaudy and ridiculous. But today it represents to me the best things about Christmas: miracles, love for one another, and, most of all, the Savior.
The story of my pink tree begins with my three-year-old daughter, named Elsie.
My Elsie was innocently naughty in all of the best ways.
She brought home fistfuls of my neighbors’ flowers, she constantly snuck into my craft room to dump glitter on her head, and one time she set a neighbor’s chickens free. She was packed to the brim with life and laughter.
On November 22, 2016, Elsie became entangled in a cord from our window blinds. When I found her, I screamed her name, quickly took her down, and started CPR. She smelled like chocolate that she must have snuck from the pantry.
I sent my son to get help. My neighbor came and administered a priesthood blessing. I remember feeling relief when Elsie took that first ragged breath and her heart began to beat again under my chest compressions. The paramedics swept in and took over the lifesaving efforts, and Elsie was flown in a helicopter to the hospital. For a week at the hospital, she alternately showed signs of progress followed by decline.
“But behold, I will show unto you a God of miracles” (Mormon 9:11).
There were many miracles surrounding her accident. When I sent my son to get help, my neighbor just happened to be running a little late for work. He just happened to already have consecrated oil in his pocket to quickly administer a priesthood blessing. The paramedics were stationed about 15 minutes away, but they just happened to be on break at a store only 3 minutes from my home. And I was somehow able to perfectly administer CPR. I had never done CPR before, but I started Elsie’s heart.
When we got to the hospital, Elsie was responding to light and pain, which was good. But she was also experiencing rhythmic, uncontrollable twitches that are common in anoxic brain injuries. She was fevering, and her heart rate was unnaturally high. On top of all that, Elsie was breathing over the ventilator, meaning that for every breath that the vent would give, she would take another on her own, panting like a dog.
But then her siblings came to visit. They talked to her quietly. They painted her nails and painted theirs to match. When it came time to leave, they sang to her “Families Can Be Together Forever.” As they sang, her heart rate returned to a normal pace. Her temperature came down. Her breathing slowed, and her twitches stopped and never came back. Another miracle.
Because of these miracles, I felt we had every reason to hope for an even bigger miracle—a full recovery to show forth the Lord’s power to heal. But when Elsie’s scans came back, they showed very little brain activity, and even that was beginning to decline. We fled to the temple to seek clarity and peace.
In the temple we received the strong impression that Elsie would not live. I was devastated and felt like such a failure. Why was I able to save her only to have her die? Where was my miracle?
Elsie became the missing miracle. The lifesaving miracle we had pleaded for would not be for Elsie but instead from Elsie to others through the miracle of organ donation. She would give to those whose missions here were not yet finished, and she would leave this earth as a lifesaving hero. Our pain would become another’s joy.
Love for One Another
A different kind of miracle was happening at our house during the week we spent in the hospital.
I wondered how I could ever feel safe in my home again. How could I come back to the scene of the worst moment of my life?
My wonderful neighbors knew that they could not fix our broken hearts, so they came to my home to fix as many other broken things as they could find—and they didn’t have to look too far to find them!
The first round of neighbors vacuumed floors, washed dishes, tidied up toys, and cleaned bathrooms. As more people learned of the service being done, the miracle grew. Furniture was replaced, walls were painted, new decor and lamps were donated, and sinks and appliances were tuned up or fixed. My friends, neighbors, and even strangers went to work transforming my home until it was bursting at the seams with Christlike love and service.
When we drove home from the hospital for the final time, we found the streets of our neighborhood lined with hundreds of candles lighting our path. It was bitterly cold, yet dozens of neighbors stood outside to sing comforting hymns to us. Many trees were strung with pink lights or tied with pink ribbons—Elsie’s favorite color.
No one asked me what I needed. I wouldn’t have known what to ask for, and I never would have asked for all that I received. But each person came and offered whatever they could to bless our family and ease our burden. They were beacons of light during our darkest hours, the Lord’s hands here on earth.
One of the things I remember most about that long week is the overwhelming peace that we felt. As we fasted and prayed for peace, it was liberally given. We came to understand what is meant by “the peace of God, which passeth all understanding” (Philippians 4:7). Because of Jesus Christ, we are able to feel peace even in sorrow.
Above all else, my family has more reason now to feel gratitude that Jesus was born. Everything really will be okay in the end because He was born. His birth overcame Elsie’s death. Because of our Savior, we will see Elsie again, and we will be an eternal family.
We long for the Savior’s return with more eagerness, we live with more hope in our hearts, and we remember with more reverence that He gave His life that we might live again. “He is the light and the life of the world” (Mosiah 16:9; italics added).
Pink Christmas Trees
In my neighborhood at Christmastime, many yards will have one tree adorned in pink lights. It used to make me feel so happy that Elsie was remembered and honored. But I see now that the real reason for the pink trees is that Elsie helped others remember Christ, serve as Christ served, and love as He loved. She helps us remember that because He came, we will see our loved ones again.
Because those pink trees remind me of Him, they have become the classiest decoration I could possibly have in my home. If you happen to see a pink tree this year, I hope it will remind you of the Savior and maybe of a way that you, too, can light the world this Christmas.