One of my favorite Christmas traditions as a child was to go with Mom to Marshall Field’s in downtown Chicago and have lunch in the Walnut Room that, as I recall, was on the 7th floor of Field’s. Of course, we always went through the toy section on 4, said “Hi to Helen Pelling and other friends Mom knew from her days working at Field’s when she was pregnant with me, and then went on to lunch in the famous Walnut Room. Things were way different back then.
Several days ago, Janet and I had lunch with Kristin at Nordstrom’s at Keystone at the Crossing, but it paled in comparison to those lunches of my youth. The hustle and bustle of downtown Chicago – coupled with knowing many of the store salespeople, made the frequent trips to MF&Co. something very special. In fact, you could actually go up a floor and look at the mid-section of the tree while you were waiting for our food to be prepared. Especially to a kid, the view was breathtaking.
For years I wondered how the tree got into the room. After all, you couldn’t bring it up the elevators or the escalators. One year, Mom told me that they used a crane and lowered it through the glass roof in the restaurant several stories above the floor of the Walnut Room. I never found out if that was really true, but I assume that it was. How else could they get a tree that large in the store? And it sure didn’t seem that it was made up of a number of smaller trees.
Mom always had special ways to get us into lunch. Since she used to work there, servers were always on the lookout for her and would flag us down and use hand signals to direct Mom to a table. My brother, Doug, and I dutifully followed her across the floor to our place under the tree. I used to love the chicken pot pie, served to us by Marie, Mom’s longtime friend. She was an elderly lady who seemed to defy time and was there for as long as I can remember. Every so often, Helen (she worked in the television department) would join us, but it wasn’t too frequently. A trip to Field’s was a special time to be with Mom, and believe me – Doug and I knew every square inch of the entire store. Mom taught us well!
Mom always liked the wedge salad with the thousand island dressing and I confess that every so often I like the hot dog they served as well. I can’t even begin to recount how many times I have eaten under the tree or in the Narcissus Room across the escalator lobby. It must be hundreds throughout my childhood.
Looking back on those days, the tree was really something to behold. It was huge! And it took large ornaments to decorate it as well. It seemed to reach the sky. That reminds me of discussions of large trees in the Bible – in fact, some of the grandest trees in the ancient times. They were used to build Solomon’s Temple as well as other structures identified throughout the Old Testament. The Cedars of Lebanon were the finest timber anywhere and the Bible records accounts of securing trees for all kinds of building projects.
Our verse for the evening speaks about these magnificent trees. We are told, in Psalm 92:12, “The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon.” Based on the size of those trees, that is quite a blessing. My encouragement this evening is that God wants us to flourish like the Cedars of Lebanon. And that comes from being righteous. My prayer is that you will flourish in the shadow of God just like the trees did. There’s nothing better than being blessed by God. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…