Are your Christmas decorations still up? Ours are. Since we have crossed to the Dark Side and now use artificial trees, the maintenance is low and there is a reduced risk of fired-hazard crispiness. (I've always left them up until New Year's though; it's so festive!) Yes, I still make sure that the candles in the windows are on at dusk and that the tree(s) are lit in the morning and in the evening. I don't want to miss a moment of the cheer. I don't want to take this season for granted! The lights on the mantle are so warm and cozy and the family room tree gives off just enough light so that we don't really even need any lamps. I am going to miss the decorations so much when they're stuffed back in the attic for another eleven months.
Although I get a HUGE amount of help from my husband, I am the main decorator in our house. And because of that, the decorations have really become an extension of who I am and what I appreciate. The simple Nativity, the primitive trees on the mantle, the sparkly living room ornaments. Santas around the fireplace and glowing candles everywhere. (And I just have to say that one of the BEST INVENTIONS EVER is the battery-powered candle. Period. Drop the mic on that one. Gets the job done and is safe. Applause hands.) The Christmas decorations all seem to reflect the way I live and love. I consider our decorations to be a testimony. I cannot wait to get the lights in the window so that anyone and everyone who drives by our house will know that, in this house, WE CELEBRATE CHRISTMAS. I want everyone who enters our home to see the Nativity in the foyer. I want to light the candles in the windows on cold, dark, rainy days to show them that Christ's love is there and real and available. I want there to be no mistake that the people who live here are only here for a while but our real home is waiting for us.
But, the wreath on my door is fading. The clock is ticking. New Year's Day and its traditional pot of chili will be accompanied by boxes and bins and tissue paper. I will carefully wrap the ornaments and place them in the boxes so that they will be protected and preserved for another year. I'll dust off the mantle and redecorate for the coming season. The windows will be cleaned off and the wreath on the door will be recycled. And then I will ask myself: if someone drives by my house will they know I love Jesus more than anything? Will my home continue to be a testimony to the King of kings? Will my light shine?
As I take these decorations down, I must, at the same time, resolve to live more boldly. To love more intentionally. To serve more selflessly. If I just put them away in a box in the attic, what good have they done? What good have I done?
As I was writing this today, we had an air-conditioner repairman at our house. (Because it's acting like August in Coastal Virginia and it's a million degrees and 1000% humidity) Through a series of attempts, it became clear that he had made an error. It cost him a trip back to a warehouse and another trip out here in the pouring rain. I couldn't leave the house and I was somewhat inconvenienced. At the end of the visit, do you know that young man couldn't thank me enough for simply being...nice. Just being decent to him. He was so appreciative that I was civil. People, what have we become? Do we want to live so that fellow humans are afraid to make a mistake and be...human? What kind of witness would I have been if I had fussed or been angry? What would he have thought about Christians, about Jesus? How would he have known, you ask, that I am a Christian? The Nativity is right across from the thermostat. Boom. Right there. Trees are all up. Bibles all around the house really. No mistake that someone who at least knows about Jesus lives here.
So how would it have looked to him if I had been mean?
So this weekend, the wreath will come down. The lights will be packed away. But will our decorations stay up? It's our prayer that they will stay up all year.
I wish all of you and your families a New Year filled with blessings and the joy of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.