when decorating for the holidays, I've always liked the idea of a little Christmas in every room. nothing over the top, but at the very least, a touch of warmth. I like to think my home is warm year-round. so, this is a different kind of warmth—seasonal and perhaps a little brighter and more intentional.
before I share a small tour of our home at Christmastime, I've got to tell you about my heart leading up to the most wonderful time of the year. brace yourselves.
almost every year, usually in October or November, I have to take a moment and mentally prepare myself for Christmas. I have to get still and take a deep breath and realize just how soon Christmas will be here, whether I'm ready or not. I have the choice to prepare for this beautiful holiday or simply wing it, to stress myself out over it or relax and enjoy it in all its madness. maybe I'm not alone in the overthinking of this, or maybe I am. I like to do this and have to do this because, much like life, December 25 comes and goes so quickly. it almost seems as if you blink, you'll miss it.
this year was different. I remember having my "moment" in the last month or two. I was excited. I was ready. I'd already begun my Christmas shopping in October and I was going to be ahead of the game. it was our first year to celebrate the holidays in our new home and I was ecstatic about that. then things got busy, and I began to lose focus. I made two trips to the store for tree lights and it still wasn't enough to dress the entire tree. I kept thinking of all the things we didn't have that I needed for decorating. like the majority of our household possessions, all the Christmas decor we had collected was lost in the flood, so we were sort of starting from scratch.
so, I got angry and frustrated and ungrateful and maybe even a little apathetic. one Sunday after church, we went to pick out our Christmas tree. at this point, I was feeling hopeful again. I grew up in a family that always had a live tree at Christmastime and am happy to carry on this tradition with my own little family. we got home, ate lunch, took naps; and I don't know what happened during that nap, but I woke up and wasn't my usual self. my husband, on the other hand, would have won the holiday cheer meister award. and the following dialogue ensued...
"let's decorate the tree!" he exclaims.
"we don't even have ornaments." I reply in a voice reminiscent of Eeyore's.
"who cares? let's put on the lights. do you want Christmas cookies? I'll make some!"
"we don't have any."
"we've got chocolate chip!"
"those aren't Christmas cookies," I mutter. I mean, what even? what kind of person turns down cookies that they don't have to bake? while I'm unboxing the new lights I purchased, I turn around to see my husband in his "Christmas" sweater... a terrible purple sweatshirt with cats and snowflakes with the words "meow meow pur pur" plastered across it in white vinyl appearing like a knit sweater type. for the record, it was a white elephant gift. this is not the gay apparel he typically dons. "WHAT are you wearing?"
"my Christmas sweater. duh!" he replies cheerfully, as he searches for Christmas music on television.
"that's not a Christmas sweater." I wrap lights around the tree, huffing and puffing and hating life and Christmas.
"do you want me to do that?" he offers.
"NO!" I fire back, like the monster I am.
it seems as if I vaguely remember my mother also despising putting lights on the tree. when I text her about this particular Christmas task later, she responds with words that struck me to my core—sort of kidding, but sort of not. "That is the absolute worst part of decorating. For real. But - after it's done, you'll love it. Kinda like childbirth." truer words have never been spoken.
I'm sure I didn't take notice of this the same night; but while I was grumbling and complaining, my husband was full of joy and cheer. and to all my complaining, he responded with love and grace. I've always said he's the nice one. he's obviously a better person than me, as well. all I could see was a halfway lit tree with zero ornaments, an empty mantle with no garland or stockings or Christmas decor in sight, family members who are no longer here and won't be able to spend the holidays with us, and the babies crying and holding onto my legs as I wrestled lights onto the tree. I was focused on all the things we didn't have. my husband saw the first tree we ever picked out with our children in tow. he saw the beautiful house the Lord provided us with that we got to celebrate the holidays in. he saw our babies that are here with us and healthy.
"someone is happy with less than [what] you [have]." have you ever heard that before? those are some powerful, convicting words. looking back on that night a few weeks ago, I can hear this phrase in my mind and clearly see it to be true. it was a memorable night kicking off the holidays and a lesson that I hope I never forget.
I still haven't finished my Christmas shopping, besides the matching $2 swim trunks for the boys I found at a Gap outlet that I know neither child will care about. and I still need to wrap a few more gifts. and the five beautiful, live wreaths I hung on my front door + windows are all dead. BUT I'm choosing to get over myself and the imperfections and embrace this season in all its beauty and madness. not having all the ornaments and lights and decor I'd like is trivial in the grand scheme of things. because whether I am ready for it or not, Christmas is here and I don't want to miss it.