Thursday, December 17, 2009

Decorated for CHRISTmas

I can't believe Christmas is only 8 days away. What's really amazing to me is how not stressed I am by the fact that we have almost nothing done in preparation for the holiday. We haven't gotten our tree yet, there are no decorations on display in our home. I haven't bought a single gift for any of my children, or my husband, or really anyone for that matter. Technically Santa has done a small amount of shopping, but it's very small. Whereas this time last year the office downstairs was full of organized boxes and lists made to make sure everyone's bounty was equal and fair, this year I don't even have a plan to speak of, other than knowing what I'll be picking up for my oldest. And yet, I don't really feel even an ounce of stress.

We are going out looking for a tree tomorrow night, because although I could willingly go without, it means a lot to my husband and kids, so tomorrow we'll all hop in Neal's truck and set out in hopes of finding a decent tree, no taller than 7 feet, or 8 at the most. I will stay up till all hours tomorrow night to put the lights on, and then I will sit down alone in the late hours of the dark night to reflect on my work, because once the lights are on, I pass on the responsibility of decorating to my husband and kids. When I was little my mother's tree was a work of art. This year she won't have a tree because she's down with a bad knee, but every other year I remember it being a display of beauty for all to see. But when I think back to my childhod I mostly remember it as forbidden. My kids have had their hands on my tree since they were able to stand. My mother made beautiful art, I hope I have made memories.

I remember when the kids were littler and all the decorations would thickly at the bottom and middle where on the assorted areas of "reach" for my kids. My husband never saw any sense in decorating the side of the tree that faced a corner, so they would decorate the side you could see and nothing more. I have over the years worried about it's ability to stand heavy sided, but we haven't lost a tree yet. Sometime this weekend the tradition will continue. I hope my oldest will still make it a priority to participate over his social life, he's a teenager now and so some of those hard choices have come into play.

Tonight the younger kids have their school program. Last year when I found out about it, I wasn't at all excited. I hadn't been to a school program in a lot of years because Jake's schools hadn't really had them to speak of. But last year's event was such a blessing, so totally Christ-centered, and a wonderful CHRISTmas celebration that even though I have a mile long list of things I should do or need to do, I can't think of any other place I'd rather be that at their school tonight.

My December plans for studying through a month of Christmas carols has not panned out the way I would have liked it to, but the two times we did stop and were able to do it have rooted deeply in my spirit. "Let every heart prepare Him room," was the sentiment Joy to the World spoke to me. And I think this panic free peace this holiday season comes from the fact that this year, for me at least, Jesus really has been the whole "reason for the season." As I listen to Christmas carols each day at work, I just keep reflecting with amazement on the mystery that is Christmas. Jesus came here to dwell among us. The truth I grasped from O Holy Night rings richly in my heart... my "soul feels its worth" to my God who loves me, who loved me enough to come.

There was a song performed at church a couple of weeks ago(that I will share below) that keeps resounding in my heart. I am amazed at the CHRISTmas story, all the glory of God being wrapped into a tiny simple package. It's somewhat of a contradiction to the way we celebrate Christmas today. I think of the beautiful fancy packages I used to find under my mother or my grandmother's tree. Perfect bows, shining paper, even the packages themselves were part of the Christmas decor. You never knew what you might find inside, it could be as simple as a pair of socks, or as extravagant as a new electronic gadget, but whatever it was, it was temporary, prone to wearing out or breaking down. It didn't make the gift any less valuable or less enjoyable to me, especially as a kid, but as I look at it now, the irony isn't lost on me. God took the simplest of packaging, seemingly common even one might say, to give the most amazing gift that would not only last a lifetime, but for all eternity. On that beautiful holy night, God came down from heaven. Emmanuel, God with us.

My house isn't decorated yet this holiday season, but my heart truly is. My soul, having truly felt its worth has prepared a place for Him. There may have been no place for Him in the inn, and everywhere you turn as people shift to "holiday celebrations" and "seasons greetings" for winter solstice, my heart has prepared Him room, and I pray I will continue to make that place of priority for Him this CHRISTmas season, as the day draws closer, and the "to do" list continues to loom, I pray I can struggle through the crowds with words of praise on my lips and joy in my heart. When there are packages to be wrapped late into the night I pray my heart will be thankful for the people I am wrapping them for. And when I am decorating the CHRISTmas tree with lights and that strand on the tree burns out, I pray my mind will remain focused on the Light of the World.

Money is tight this year, the economy is bad, business is pretty far off of where we'd like it to be, and yet as I sit here and reflect, I know I am a blessed woman. Whatever may or may not be underneath a Christmas tree for me this year, I know I have been given a priceless gift that will never lose it's value and can never be taken away. I hope this same truth resounds in your home and your hearts this holiday season.

So all this was done that it might be fulfilled
which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying:
“Behold, the virgin shall be with child,
and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,”
which is translated, “God with us.”

Matthew 1:22-23

God bless us one and all.

Merry CHRISTmas.