Many folks have been blogging and Twittering about taking down all of their holiday decorations. One woman wrote that she had the tree down and everything stowed away for next year by midday on Christmas Day! She had decorated on Thanksgiving and found herself ready to be done with Christmas for this year.
I am still enjoying our Christmas decorations. This year, we got the tree and other decorations up on December 4, and put the ornaments on the tree the following Friday. For me, that was early. There have been a number of years when, because of my schedule, I did not put the tree up until two or three days before Christmas. And a couple when we put up only a tree. But I always leave the tree up through New Year’s Eve.
My attitude stems from my parents’ tradition. The tree was always lit for the last time on New Year’s Eve and the next day all of the decorations were taken down. For me, it has always seemed somehow fitting to enjoy the lights from the tree and other adornments while ushering in the New Year, and then start the year off by removing the “old” the next morning. The house always seems roomier and cleaner after the decorations are removed, the furniture put back in its place, etc. And by New Year’s Day, I’m usually ready to start doing laundry and other chores in preparation for returning to work.
It wouldn’t be Christmas in our house without my “girls.” In 1983, my long-time friend Lynette surprised me with ceramic likenesses of my two cats. They are my most prized and precious ornaments (and that’s really saying something because I have a lot of ornaments), so they are always placed prominently at the top front of our tree.
My nativity scene is also on display for the first time in several years. I happened upon this beautiful set at Costco at least a dozen years ago and gave several to friends and relatives as Christmas gifts. I love the expressions on the characters’ faces, as well as the colors used.
My boys are men now — #1Son is 22, and MattieBoo celebrated his 18th birthday last month. However, taking photos at my house is not any easier than it was when they were little toddlers running around clowning for the camera. There is one member of our household who refuses to be ignored when there is a camera in her vicinity. Miss Sophie — aka Queen Sophia — just pushed herself between me and the nativity scene and stared at me, saying, “Take a picture of me, Mom! You know you want to!”
Christmas is always a low-key, mellow affair at our house. This year, the first for my boys and me in our new house, was no exception. I don’t believe in showering them with gifts they neither want nor need, but always make sure that they receive things they truly want. I have tried very hard to teach them to be grateful for what they receive. Last week, the Lodi News-Sentinel published the thoughts of two local Lutheran pastors on the topic of Advent and I agree wholeheartedly with the sentiments shared by one of those ministers:
Christians reflect upon this season of Advent as a time of preparation before we specifically remember and celebrate the birth of the Babe of Bethlehem on Christmas day. The word advent comes from the Latin “adventus” which simply means “coming.” So, as a Christian I recall the story, the coming, of the Christ child.
This story is one that has been told since the birth of Jesus the Christ, and it is a story of promise, hope, and one of revolutionary love for the entire world. But I have to ask, what happened?
What was once a time that we would celebrate the birth of a Savior has somehow turned into a season of stress, long lines waiting to get into the store, long lines waiting to pay for the items carefully chosen, fighting over parking spots and never-ending shopping lists.
And then, when it’s all over, many people are left with presents to return, debt that will take months to pay off and a feeling of missed purpose. Is this what we really want out of Christmas? What if Christmas became a world-changing event again?
What if we all put Christ back into Christmas? After all, it all started with Jesus the Christ, and it all ends with Jesus as well. Is that the conspiracy? No, this is the holistic approach God had in mind for Christmas.
I hope that when my boys establish their own homes, they remember the meaning of Christmas, adopting a “holistic” approach to the holiday season and serving as grateful role models for their own children.
And I hope that you and yours have enjoyed a stress-free, relaxed holiday season from which you will emerge refreshed, rejuvenated, and prepared for the challenges of 2010.