The title is a copy of a message from an online Christian friend who wisely wants us all to remember the true meaning of the season. Yes, I (and most every other Christian I imagine) know that Christ was not actually born on December 25th. And I also know that early church leaders appropriated the date from a pagan holiday. And I very much hate to see just how commercialized and self-centered the holiday has become. But ultimately, none of that changes the fact that the core meaning of Christmas – for Christians – is a celebration of the birth of the One who came to save us all. It’s the time that we choose to honor that amazing event and it doesn’t matter that it most likely happened sometime in the fall, not the winter. Perhaps there’s a very good reason that God chose not to reveal an exact time and date for the birth of His Son. Just look at what we’ve done to the date we have chosen to use as a substitute! What began long ago as a time for reverence and reflection and thankfulness has become a time for ridiculous spending and selfish indulgence. We have so commercialized the holiday and turned our backs on the original intent that it has now become de rigueur to eliminate Christ from the title altogether.
I’m not trying to rant, here. I just find it increasingly sad to see just how far from Christ Christmas is drifting. I have no problem with giving gifts. I love to give gifts. And I love the best things of the holiday. I love the lights and the music. I love baking and making candy. I love decorating (including a tree) and wrapping gifts. I love the idea of the meaning behind the holiday and the notion that for a little while at least people do tend to try to be a bit more considerate and generous. Christmas is a time of year that holds very special memories for me and I will always love it. This year, however, has been harder than usual. Here’s my Christmas tree from last year:
As you can see, it’s a sizable tree and covered with a lot of ornaments, most of which date back to my childhood. I love to turn all the lights off at night and just look at the lights on the tree. I just love the bright colors, the shadows cast on the walls and ceiling from the lights shining through the branches. I feel the same way about lights on houses. Christmas is a season I look forward to all year long. This year things weren’t quite normal, though.
My decorating this year consisted of me putting a wreath on my front door. Well, I always have a wreath there, but I changed it for my Christmas wreath. And that’s ALL I did. My Christmas tree is stored out in our shed and there was no way in the world that I could go out there and drag it into the house. Even if Mark had brought it in for me, I never would have been able to get it assembled and decorated. It would have taken me days to accomplish. Mark has been working far too much to find the time to do it himself. So no Christmas tree for us this year. I’d like to say it didn’t bother me, but that would be a lie. I missed it. I missed the pretty lights and the nostalgia of hanging all those ornaments. I have a LOT of miscellaneous Christmas decorations. Like I said earlier, I love the holiday. Dragging all that stuff out and placing it throughout the house just brings a smile to my face. It simply wasn’t possible this year.
I did my best to keep it from getting me down. I certainly have plenty to be thankful for and no excuse at all to complain. But I really did miss my tree. I missed getting to go shopping and wrapping presents. I missed making tons of candy and cookies and cakes and pies. And no matter how much I tried to let go of those traditions, it did kinda get me down. So Mark and I went out to do some last minute errands on Christmas eve and knowing how much I missed my pretty lights, he made sure I would have some. This is what we ended up with.
I don’t know what these trees are called. I described them to someone once as a cross between a pine tree and a palm tree. LOL. My mother actually had one when I was a kid and we would hang tiny little Christmas balls on it. (Like the ones on this one.) These days small decorative trees are apparently pretty popular because I’ve noticed for a few years now that you can get everything from the little balls to tiny ornaments and even little garland. I had another one of these a few years back and had already bought the balls and some itty bitty ornaments. Mark and I picked up the plant itself and one of those nifty little strings of LED lights that runs off a battery. We came home and I found my little decorations in one of my Christmas boxes that I store here in the house. I put the lights and decorations on it, then sat it on one of my end tables. (Those little presents are toys for our dogs. Couldn’t let Christmas go by with nothing for them! LOL)
Honestly, I love my little tree. It’s just so cute. And it helped satisfy my craving for Christmas lights. I’m seriously thinking of just leaving the lights in it permanently. They make me smile.
So, I got my Christmas tree after all. And more importantly, I got to spend the day with my husband. He was actually not feeling very well, so I did all the cooking. God was gracious enough to give me the energy I needed to accomplish that task. I even took the ham bone after I’d cut most of the meat off and put it in a crock pot with a pound of dried beans. They were done when we got up this morning. Pretty tasty, too. So I have a fridge full of ham, a bunch of leftover beans, and almost a whole turkey breast that I put up after Thanksgiving and got out for Christmas. (Mark’s a turkey nut!)
I think I’ll take some of that ham and make ham salad for Mark. I’ve got all I need for it, and a big ol’ food processor to make the job easy. I even found the energy tonight to load the dishwasher! All in all, I’m feeling especially blessed. Mark’s going to have a few days off this week and I’m almost half-way through my second dense dose chemo. I’ll be getting treatment #3 this week and then there’ll only be one more left.
I wish I’d felt more like keeping my Christmas traditions this year, but maybe there’s a good reason that I couldn’t. Maybe I needed to take a step back from all the lights and tinsel to remember the simple truth behind it all. A little more than 2000 years ago God Himself became a flesh and blood man. He set aside His crown and His glory and came here to live among us, to share our toils, trials, and temptations. He was born to poor parents and raised without any fanfare or luxury. He would eventually die a terrible death, all so we could know full forgiveness and reconciliation with our Creator. As much as I love my Christmas lights and music and traditions, I am even more grateful to BE LOVED by the One who sacrificed His all for me.