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How Not to Prepare a Home

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Background music attribution: The O’Neill Brothers Group, The Holly & The Ivy from Joyous Christmas Carols on Piano

It was a year marked by significant changes for us . . . and an uncertain future.

Normal was a foreign concept.

But I was determined to keep things normal—especially when it came to Christmas.

I tackled the monstrous job of decorating our home with a less-than admirable attitude.

I bullishly wrestled bulging boxes. And launched the ladder to deck the roofline with lights (in absolute fear and stubborn pride). I wore myself out, all because I was concerned with outward appearances. Because homelife was already different enough for the kids, I didn’t want any added visible reminders.

But, as I assembled the tree, the stand failed to stand at all. I huffed . . . and I puffed . . . till I practically blew the house down trying to fix it.

I couldn’t afford to buy a new tree, and we certainly weren’t going to do without, so I tried to engineer a solution. And, because I felt everything else in life was miserably broken, a broken tree was entirely unacceptable!

I first tried to duct-tape the tree to a piece of plywood and then camouflage the rigging. Well, you guessed it, it toppled over a few days later.

“I’ll fix that!” I spewed.

Then I tied some rope around it and nailed it to the windowsill! It stayed up all season. When I went to take the tree down, the nail wouldn’t budge! I buried it so deep, it seemed lodged in the foundation of the house. So, I put it back up the same way again the year after that, and the year after that, reutilizing that unremovable nail.

The kids roared with laughter. I nervously, and painfully, chuckled along. (Now, of course, I find it quite hilarious!) It was a silly thing, but it really turned the tide for us.

When we moved out of that house years later, the nail remained. As I gave the home a final, reminiscent tour, I smiled at the memory of it. (I smile even now.) I have often wondered what the new homeowners thought of that curious nail (because I doubt it ever came out!).

Decorating our home that year was ultra-important—but for the wrong reasons. I erred in believing that the very success of our Christmas depended on how it all looked. But, by God’s healing grace, He is teaching me a different set of values and priorities.

Decorating for Christmas is a non-essential. Preparing our home, however, is not.

Here are a few personal thoughts on how to prepare a home for Christmas:

  • Pray over, in, and through each room—about the activities, conversations, and people who will occupy the space.

  • Leave out an open Bible (and share with others what you find there).

  • Make Jesus evident among you by giving Him thanks and praise whenever you see His hand at work.

  • Set the tone of your home by speaking words of kindness and respect.

  • Fill your home with the spirit of Jesus. Be patient, merciful, and humbly serve others in love. And be forgiving of others (and yourself) when you blow it.

  • Try to minimize unnecessary clutter (if only for your own mental health).

  • Finally, adorn the atmosphere with love and laughter.

Preparing our home has become far less dramatic . . . and traumatic. I don’t attempt to string up lights across the rooftop anymore. I have realized that’s not how you prepare your home for Christmas. And I’m quite ok with keeping the store-bought garnishments to a minimum.

Let’s not fall into the trap of going Griswold overboard. Simply prepare room for Jesus.

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