Our house isn’t covered in lights. The tree isn’t trimmed. The halls are not decked. The only sign of Christmas in our house is a humble little tree and a poinsettia that we received at my husband’s Christmas party. Why I didn’t decorate for Christmas this year is the big question. The answer? Life.
Life this year made me avoid one of my favorite things this time of year…decorating. I will tell you why I didn’t decorate, but I want to also tell you some of my ponderings while my house remained bare and others became festive and jolly.
Our calendar this year has seemed packed to the brim. I know! I shouldn’t keep my schedule so busy that I can’t even figure out how to do things like decorate for Christmas. One big thing is that we are doing a remodel, so I actually sit and type this post with no power. We have gutted the laundry room at this point, and everything from our laundry room has been packed in boxes and stuck in the garage. All of the construction materials are stacked in the garage as well. What does that mean? We didn’t have the foresight to grab out the Christmas decorations in the back of the garage before stacking everything in front of them. It may have been the lack of us thinking or it may have been the grace of God that made us trap those decorations in the back corners that cannot be reached.
We could have pulled everything out and retrieved the decorations, but we chose not to because of that life thing I was telling you about. My schedule lately would give anyone a bit of anxiety. I can tell you that I spent a lot of time the last few weeks focusing on breathing. I keep my life fairly busy anyway, but on top of my normal responsibilities like being in my daughter’s classroom, helping in a marriage ministry at church, working in the toddler room at church, running a blog, running a household, Mom’s in Prayer group, and watching my son’s cousin once a week there was more all condensed into a couple weeks. Breathe. Last week, for example, we had different commitments 5 out of 7 nights that week. Breathe. Further, my church has a Christmas production coming up, and I was in charge of creating the entire backdrop of the set, which consisted of a number of huge painted scenery panels. In this, I felt under-qualified and limited in time, as I was originally given a week and a half of design and execution time. Breathe. We had a doctor appointment where we discovered that my daughter has two hernias that need to be removed. Surgery was scheduled but due to sickness, we have moved it until this week. Breathe. I had a 4 hour car appointment to get something fixed, a hair appointment to get my daughter’s self-cut bangs fixed, helicopter flight lessons and since I am the room mom for Kenzie’s class am trying to plan her winter party at school. Breathe. I had pre-committed to a number of sponsored blog posts. Breathe. In the midst of this, we have construction on the house daily with days that have no water or no electricity. Breathe. We will be gutting our kitchen right after Christmas. It’s also our ten year anniversary and ~gasp~ my 40th birthday in January, so we are spending the first week of January on a cruise in the Bahamas. I’m pretty sure I’m going to need it at that point.
In the midst of all that, did it make sense to add one more thing to my plate by decorating the house? Would I be able to find time after Christmas to clean it all up? I couldn’t figure out how I could possibly manage. Our house remains bare. You know what? I’m OK with that. I haven’t missed decking the halls as much as I imagined. I have spent a little bit of my left over brain energy to reflect on this lack of a visual representation of Christmas in our house, and I thought I would share some of my insights with you.
- Christ Arrived in a Humble Way – The Lord of the universe gave up all the majesty, beauty and perfection that is found in a heavenly dwelling to arrive as a baby. He came not clothed for royalty. He didn’t arrive with decorations or in a fancy setting. Instead, he chose to enter into this world with his first bed as a feeding trough for animals. He was born to a poor family in a town of no honor. He would eventually face rejection, ridicule and a torturous death. In it, he would teach others to love their enemies, serve others and teach about a grace and forgiveness that comes to even the worst of sinners. Talk about a humble existence. “In his very nature he was God. Jesus was equal to God. But Jesus didn’t take advantage of that fact. Instead, he made himself nothing. He did this by taking on the nature of a servant.” – Philipians 2:5-7a (NIRV) Jesus was humble in his birth and in his life. Therefore, I find it OK to have a more humble setting in our house to celebrate Christ’s birth.
- Not Decorating Will Not Stop Christmas – We teach our kids and truly believe that Christmas is not about Santa Claus, presents, certain types of food or decorations. To live that out for our kids and show them that Christmas still arrives even if we don’t have a fancy tree, stockings or decorations is a healthy practice.
- Simplifying is Needed – We need to simplify our lives. This year it came in the form of no decorations for us. However, when a schedule is so packed that you can’t do something as simple as get a Christmas tree up, there might be an issue. I find that when I am busy, I am short tempered, not present in the moment and distracted mentally. My family gets the short end of the stick. I need to protect my schedule more…and not just during the Christmas season. Simplification could come in how much I decorate as well. I asked my husband how he felt about not having Christmas decorations up this year, and he said, “relieved.” Ask yourself, “Is this such an ordeal in our house that it adds stress and conflict or is a fun way our family celebrates and bonds?”
- A Lot of Money is Spent on Christmas Décor – There is a lot of money spent annually on Christmas decorations. According to a 2012 Huffington Post Article, we could erase homelessness in the United States with the amount of money we spend on Christmas decorations. Of course, I don’t believe it’s that simple. I have worked with homeless people. The fact of the matter is throwing money at the problem isn’t always the answer. There’s mental illness, drug addictions and choices to be on the street. Yes, there are plenty of people that really need help and are so grateful. There are people who work hard and make a way off the streets with the help of others. I do believe we need to be there to come alongside those who want to be helped, I’m just saying that I’m not sure how much of the other issues were factored into this article. All that said, the kind of money Americans spend on Christmas decorations could be used in much more impactful ways…ways Christ promoted while he was here – taking care of the poor, the sick and the hurting. I would propose being a lot more modest in what we spend. I know we all see sparkly new things that would make our tree or our home look that much more festive. However, before we purchase, it’s great to examine our hearts. Is buying that thing going to take away from what we are willing to give? How is our spending reflecting our desire to follow Jesus? You also want to make sure that your holiday spending isn’t a way of committing financial infidelity on your spouse.
- There is Great Joy in Giving the Children Ownership Over Christmas Decorations – I guess saying we had no Christmas decorations isn’t exactly the truth. We had no store-bought or fancy Christmas decorations. We had our humble tree from our “Wish for Others” experience that the kids could decorate however they wanted. I also said they could make the decoration for the rest of the house. Using paper, pipe cleaners, pom poms and popsicle sticks, the kids were in charge of design, and they loved it. It wasn’t fancy, but it was from their hearts and creativity. There was beauty in the simplicity and the heart behind it all. You are talking to a woman who generally likes to have a department store-like tree and beautiful décor, so letting go of that was hard but full of joy.
Will I have other years where I won’t decorate? Maybe but probably not. I am not saying that we should erase decorating all together. There is no way I’m judging the joy you get from having your house looking fabulous for the season. I know that joy. I love bringing in the celebration of Christ’s birth in splendor. These are merely my flitting thoughts as I reflect on this year and encouraging you to not feel bad if you can’t get it all done. Christmas comes, whether your home reflects it in decor. Christmas comes because what we are really celebrating is the birth of a baby who would change history, not only by what he taught us but because of his ability to take away our sins so that we might be presented clean before a Holy God.