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.
LOVE it! Thank you so much for posting this. We were feeling really bad about not doing much this Christmas. We have good excuses, but sometimes I just compare myself with others too much.
Merry Christmas Jodi!
Thanks so much, Janine! I’m so glad that there’s someone else to relate to in this area. Christmas comes despite us, huh? 🙂 Thanks! Merry Christmas to you too!
I am so glad you wrote this. We managed a tree this year and a front-door wreath. Oh, and Jimmie put up the lights tonight (Dec. 21). The 7 giant tubs of Christmas stuff in the garage is accessible but I’ve just been too darn busy. I am going to stop feeling guilty and inadequate right this very minute. Sometimes we just need permission to breathe. Hope to see you more in 2015!
I’m so glad this was helpful to you. I decided to write it last minute, and I wasn’t sure if it would resonate with anyone. Please do stop feeling guilty right this minute and really enjoy Christmas! Thanks so much for commenting!
Mary and Joseph celebrated the first Christmas in a barn, after a long journey, covered in dust. I am sure they were just happy to be there, together 🙂
Right? I love the decorations, but it was good to take a break from it this past year. It’s such a reminder to get back to the heart of Christmas. Jesus came humbly. It’s our hear that matters. 🙂
“Why older couples don’t decorate for Christmas?” Yes, I put that question in the search box. When my four children were still at home, there was “Christmas” in every nook and cranny, and traditions, (I thought). Well . . . as they moved from home, married, they of course began their own “Christmas”, with their own traditions, which is the way it should be. Now, mind you, I don’t mean for this to be a “woe is me” comment, but I don’t know what has happened, and is it just my family? Yes, we are a blended family so to speak, but my children are the only of all children who are in contact, as they so chose. Yes, my children are a bit “grudge-ful” 21 years with their stepdad due to things, that I guess I didn’t see or don’t remember except for cross words, which happen in most all families. Well, to get down to basics, 3 of the families out of the four, do keep in contact with us. The fourth one visits from afar, staying at one of the siblings home that lives 15m away), therefore, those two precious grand daughters(ages 4 and 6yrs) have only had maybe 3 or 4 times that they might remember being in our home, if they even remember, since so young. Sorry this is going deeper than my original question, but perhaps there are more answers out there other than to the original question. Yes the other 3 children live scattered out, one 10 hrs, another 5hrs and the next 3hrs. A good holiday setup has been created, with Thanksgiving & Christmas every other year. It was actually Thanksgiving for this year. To continue, the son & family who live about 15 miles from us do bring the grand children to visit, if the daughter-in-law needs me to watch them if she goes to the gym and run errands for an hour and a half or two hours when her mom(lives 4 doors down) isn’t available or going with her. My son comes by maybe once every couple of months if he’s in town and happens to think about stopping. I do understand since he is on the highway at least 2 hours daily, to and from his work place. Hope not to sound like making excuses for him because he’s on the road and makes a good living for his family so they can do all the neat and nifty things people do with their kiddoes nowadays. I mentioned during Thanksgiving week end that perhaps those 3 grand children could come and help me with our Christmas tree, even mentioning a day. I suppose things got really busy that week and didn’t hear from anyone so I made the call on Sat. evening to maybe check on a time to get together and time for the school program(she didn’t remember & would look & email me), but they were on the way out the door for an adult Christmas party. I would have been glad to watch the children and would have been a great time to decorate, put up the tree, but I guess other arrangements had already be made. Well as you see, to put it in “text lango”, “Ijdk”( I just don’t know.). Now its Sunday night, and another busy week(not really for us). Are there other, notice what I say, “OLDER couples”, not “OLD couples” that go through the same thing? I know that we always made sure to take our kiddoes to the grand parents at least one time, if not more, every week, just to “hang out” and play, make memories. This all being said, is there any reason for us to even have a Christmas tree? I don’t know what happened with our gift-giving, as that disappeared about 8yrs ago, when we had a hard time but we still gave the grand children gifts. Now only one of my children buys anything for us, and we have to all but beg those near to come and pick up their gifts(one year, it was after New Years). I do try to set a convenient time for my children close to come and have a meal and exchange gifts, with a few times of “no show”, even after reminder calls. My husband & I don’t do gifts, so to have more for the kiddoes, so most years, there is no gifts at all for either of us(almost didn’t put this is because I didn’t want ‘sympathy’ type thing). I’m sure by this time, you’re wondering “What the heck is going on with this family?” Yes, I have been for years and even subtlely asked a few times, to no avail. The children just avoided the question by changing the subject. I just feel I’m getting older, having more health issues and not have been and had opportunities that I made sure I afforded my parents and grandparents and even great-grandparents, when they were here. Has any “older couple” gone through this? And . . . back to the main question, “Should I still decorate and put up the Christmas tree for just me and my husband, and whomever might happen to stop by?” I know this blog/post has been ongoing for a couple of years, but maybe someone might see this and put a reply. Thank you so much for your time. Merry Christmas and May God Bless You All!
I do hope someone sees this and puts a reply. Maybe I’ll put up this post on my Facebook and see if other “older” women might be able to come in and comment. I’m so sorry for what seems like some separation within your family. It’s hard to know how to advise specifically without knowing everyone personally. My biggest piece of advice for healing what might be broken is the same tips I give for marriage in this post: https://meaningfulmama.com/this-one-tip-will-transform-your-marriage.html. I really encourage you to read that post and reflect on how it relates. People get busy and often don’t invest in and care for their family like they should, which is sad. These are important relationships that sound like they need some healing. If you don’t believe you have others coming by, do what breathes life into you and your husband. If it’s too hard this year, and it causes more stress than skip it. Spend the time you would have spent decorating focusing on the hope, peace, healing, grace and reconciliation that the Savior brought into the world. If you don’t know Jesus, spend this time looking into it. If you do, spend time in the Word and prayer reflecting on how you can become more like Him and love your family they way they need. If decorating would bring you a sense of joy and focus to the season, then I encourage you to do that. You might want to take a more moderate approach and buy a simple small tree and keep the decorations more manageable than you did 30 years ago. If you choose to do it, don’t do it with the anticipation that if you decorate they will come and then be disappointed if it doesn’t happen. Get to the heart of the season and be at peace. I am putting this out on my FB page at 11:00 AM pacific to see if anyone else has advice. They might comment here or you could always pop over there and see if anyone responds on Facebook. Blessings on your season. I really hope for healing in your family. Continue to love, be available and reflect on how you can best contribute to a positive atmosphere for you family.
Your answer is no, don’t put up a Christmas tree unless you can manage it for yourself without help. If you don’t need Christmas decorations to make you feel festive, don’t bother. Do only for you and your husband and to hell with everyone else. I am 68 years young, and I mean young; still exercise, socialize and keep active on social media. I have 3 grown children 48, 35, and 33. The older and younger ones have families. The older one lives 4 hours away and visits about 3 times a year but never on holidays and the younger one is married to a very controlling man who doesn’t allow her to visit us ever. The middle child is single and up to this year had always spent Thanksgiving with us but didn’t this year; who knows if he will come for Christmas. I will not cal or invite them ever again, they are grown up enough to know to be considered and attentive toward their parents. Instead, while I’m still young enough to travel, I think that is what we will be doing from now on during the holidays. So many years of making sure everyone had a merry Christmas and the minute we got old they basically just kicked us to the side. So they can just forget about getting any presents from us since the only one who has ever gotten us anything is our middle child; I guess I will just Amazon him something to his house. LOL So since no one is coming for Christmas this year, no, I’m not decorating 🙂
Sorry it took me so long to get back to this response. I’m so sorry to hear about the brokenness in your family. I’m hoping you are all able to find forgiveness and healing for the hurts involved. 🙁