If you come to my home this December
If you come to my home this December, you will see that we decorated my Christmas tree with the assistance of my 6 year old daughter and 1 year old son. Our decorations are modified this year. With my son's new ability to walk, we've made some adjustments in our decor, especially. A good example would be that we can't hang the stockings early because it's just a matter of time before they get tugged and the stocking holder falls on someone's head or toe. My husband and I decided that our tree will eventually be pulled over, so weâ€™re using simple ornaments, ideally cloth or plastic, and definitely not sentimental ones. The precious ornaments will need to be put away for next year, when our tiny tornado toddler has mastered more vocabulary, namely â€śPut that downâ€ť and â€śNoâ€ť.
I feel torn though because my daughter is starting to recognize the different pieces that we've brought out every year. She is starting to learn their stories and understand more about our family and traditions. If we skip a year, will she forget which ornaments came from me, her Grandma or her Godparents? I am anxious for her to develop that familiarity with who she is and where she comes from and especially of why we celebrate Christ's birth the way we do. I want desperately for her to know how many people have cared for her, not just now, but before she was even born. And to me, the ornaments are a wonderful, tangible blend of love, stories, and tradition. A piece of your heritage hung up for all the world to see.
But that isn't what is happening this year. After an extra week of debating, I decided to avoid the mourning and tears from destroyed keepsake ornaments. I wanted my relationship with my children to take precedence over my love of a Christmas tree.
So tonight, we gathered to place two boxes of loser ornaments on the Christmas tree. The tree with one foot in the grave (it will be replaced next year), bejeweled with the ornaments that would never be mourned. And in this season of Advent, I had an Epiphany. In this year of compromise, God is still teaching me about the meaning of Christmas. I was watching my son and my daughter decorate the tree and for the first time in years, it didn't really matter to me where the ornaments went because my attention shifted to my family and how amazing it is to have these little miracles fumbling with ribbons and branches. By taking a break from orchestrating the tree-decor process, I realize that we are like these ornaments in a lot of ways. We are the undesirables. The rejects. We are the ones that may well be placed back in the box or glossed over for a better selection, but God chooses us anyway. He takes us out of the box and places us in an undeserved spot of honor and distinction. He hand-picks us. Pulls us up. He doesn't care that we're ugly and might easily be discarded by others. God cares more about His relationship with us than about what we can offer to a superficial world. I am striving to help my children feel this same love and blind pursuit. And in this season of joy, I strive even harder to not focus on how often I fall short.
As I am pondering my island of mis-fit ornaments, I light the tree. I have always liked placing our lit Christmas tree in our dining room's picture window. I feel that it is a silent witness to the â€śXmasâ€ť world that my family celebrates the Christ in Christmas. There is a magical feeling when you pull into your driveway on a December evening and gaze at your tree shining into the dark winter night. This year I watched my son mouth his favorite syllable "Ooooohhhh" as the tree lit up our dining room. And as the glow reflected in his eyes, I prayed for my speech to be reduced to that simple speechless "Ohhh" in response to the miracle of Christ's humility. The humility that stretches down from a throne and into a manger. That deep, heart-heavy respect of how much Jesus gave up to spend special moments on earth because of the relationship He wanted to have with us. Whatâ€™s a couple of ornaments compared to that type of sacrifice?
So this year, if you come to my home, you probably won't feel like you've stepped into the cover of a House-Perfect magazine. Instead, I hope you meet a family that pursues relationships over things. I want you to see children making mistakes, parents loving them anyway. I want this to remind you of your Heavenly Father who sees our shortfalls and somehow forgives us anyway. If you come by our home in December, stop in to see our tree, but don't leave before you see our Savior.