Let’s ignore the fact that I don’t actually own tinsel, and focus on the crushing truth that every last Christmas decoration is now stored away until next year’s festivities. I suppose there is something cathartic about the rearranging and purging that accompanies decoration dismantling. And there is, of course, the added bonus of discovering how much room the tree and other decorations occupy – how much glorious space is gained always shocks me. But somehow, I’m still so sad to see everything go. We don’t have much really – a $30 artificial tree, decorations accumulated from parents and after-Christmas sales – but they are all ours, and I love every last item.
It’s a fine balance at Christmas. I feel guilty sometimes about how much I do enjoy the superfluous things – the cookie exchanges and lights, the nostalgic music and glittery wrapping paper (and the smell of Scotch tape, odd I know). I feel the need to stifle the inner-child that always emerges because this is (aside from Easter of course) one of the most important celebrations and reminders for the Christian. Along the way, commercialism and consumerism and consumption have shrouded the holiday with an overwhelming air of greed.
But I think, amidst the wrapping and the cooking and the singing and the merriment, we can still find the true meaning of Christmas. Love and generosity and family and joy all mirror what Christmas is about – and a babe came to offer all those things. Christmas, celebrated properly, reflects the greatest of all commandments (Luke 10:27).
And these past two years, I think Christmas – at it’s core – has become more real to me. We’ve all heard the Christmas “story” so many times that it starts to feel like that – just a story. The angels and frankincense are so engrained that they lose their wonder; but what really makes Christ’s birth ring true – reflecting on His very human birth. After carrying and delivering my own child, somehow it makes Christ’s arrival on earth seem more tangible, and even more miraculous. If God could orchestrate a divine conception, surely He could have arranged a more remarkable birth – a stork, a sudden appearance, a royal cradle. But instead he chose a stable – complete with mangy animals and moldy hay and an otherwise unremarkable woman. Yet how remarkable that this humble location, not even fit for a commoner, would be the birthplace of a King.
So, I enjoy Christmas, unabashedly. The giving and sharing and time with friends and family. But if I had to choose something extra – something unnecessary, but so enjoyed (aside from my treasured wax figurine) – it would be the tree. There is nothing like the magical, warm glow of Christmas lights. Each year, as we add to our ornament collection, the tree fills out more beautifully and is at this stage so deeply sentimental, that I found myself taking time to admire ornaments almost every day. I’ll catch a glimpse of Abby’s first handprint ornament covered in glitter while I’m washing dishes and a smile will creep to my face. Then there is the tiny snowman with the glowing belly – my favourite ornament from John; my “Baby’s First Christmas” Ornament that never seems to fit with any colour scheme on the tree (it’s peach), so it always gets relegated as a filler at the back, but I love sneaking little peeks and imagining the first Christmas it bedecked my parents tree.
Although the tree and the ornaments and the sweet-smelling candles are packed away and the stockings are haphazardly filled with breakable or scratch-able things and all that’s left is a rogue bow or two scattered in a toy box, absconded by Abby for play…I thought I’d share a few new/favourite things before I bid Christmas 2012 adieu.