It was a year marked by significant changes . . . and an uncertain future.
Normal was a foreign concept.
But I was overly determined to keep things normal—to a fault. Especially when it came to Christmas.
I tackled the monstrous job of decorating the home on my own (in 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, concerned with outward appearances.
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; then camouflage the rigging. Well, you guessed it: it toppled a few days later.
“I’ll fix that!” I spewed.
Then I tied some rope around it and nailed it to the windowsill! That kept it up all season. So, I did it again the year after that, and the year after that (reutilizing that unremovable nail, buried deep in the foundation of the house).
The kids roared with laughter. I nervously, and painfully, chuckled along. (Now, of course, I find it quite hilarious!) It was a silly thing that 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 the non-essential. Preparing our homes, 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 that will occupy that 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. Be the example in attitude. And be forgiving of others (and yourself) when you blow it.
Try to minimize unnecessary clutter (if for the sole reason of 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. God has gently taught me to address what lies within first.
In a year when we have endured many significant changes, and an uncertain future, it would be easy to fall into a trap to go Griswold-overboard at Christmas. And with the additional circumstances of not being able to invite a large number of guests into our homes, it has become even more important that we simply invite and welcome Jesus into our homes—leaving Him room to dwell among us.