There is something cozy and inviting about a house all decorated for Christmas. The brightly lit tree, stockings hung by the fireplace, garland on the mantle, nativity figures displayed prominently.
An ordinary room can be transformed into a winter wonderland. It makes me want to just sit under a warm blanket with a steaming cup of hot cocoa, admiring everything and anticipating the holiday magic to come.
With our bellies still full from Thanksgiving dinner, our family began “decking the halls” with the items found in the boxes brought down from the attic. My kids couldn’t wait until the artificial tree’s branches were sufficiently fanned out, so they could start hanging ornaments!
Once they got the green light, they put about 15 of the same ornament in one spot, as usual. Going a little gangbusters, they stuck red bows all over the place and crowded the shelves with several decorations at once. With a little guidance from me (and a little behind the scenes rearranging), the living room became something of a scene in a magazine, and all that was left to do was sit back and enjoy it.
Enjoying it becomes somewhat difficult, however, when you have two pairs of little hands wanting to touch and play with everything you worked so hard to put up. It’s really kind of a losing battle, displaying a big, bright target in the corner of a room with lots of shiny objects, and then expecting your kids NOT to touch it.
This time of year can bring out the best, most generous sides of us, but it can also bring out the ugly. When you become uptight and stressed because a few decorations are out of place, then you have lost the true meaning of Christmas.
It’s a little cliche now, but Jesus is the reason for the season. We should be focused more on preparing our hearts than our homes this time of year.
I feel that tension every December, between wanting to give my kids the best, most memorable holiday experience full of crafts, candy canes, and cookies, and being really intentional about teaching them what and who we are celebrating. It can be so easy to get wrapped up in making my house look Pinterest-worthy and worrying about buying the perfect gifts for everyone, instead of taking time to remember God’s greatest gift to us.
I think sometimes we can unintentionally get sucked into the commercialism and glitz of Christmas, without realizing that all our children need to have a special holiday is time spent with family reflecting on Jesus’ birth.
There is so much about the Christmas story in Scripture we can marvel at. It’s both astonishingly simple and complex at the same time; a king humbling himself to be born to unknown parents, in the most lowly of places, with no elaborate reception except for the visit from a group of dirty, smelly shepherds.
This miracle and amazing paradigm often gets lost among all the extra, more shiny stuff. When we’re not careful, it can become just another old familiar tale that lacks luster.
Colorful lights, beautifully wrapped presents, and glittery decorations adorning our homes are only supposed to be in the background as we focus on the real meaning of the season.
They aren’t meant to be the things by which we gauge our wonder and joy. If they are, we have to ask whether we are worshiping the things that represent Christ instead of Christ Himself.
Not long after we had decorated, I found my preschooler kneeling by the tree, with a glue stick in one hand and a broken ornament in the other. At that moment, I had a choice.
I could scold her for being careless and ruining a decoration, something that is only a reflection of what we are really celebrating, or I could be gracious and take that opportunity to point her towards what truly matters.
I decided to choose heart over home.
I told her that I understood it was an accident, helped her glue the broken pieces back together, and then pick out a new spot on the tree to hang the ornament. This season, I hope to bring the beauty and wonder of the Nativity to the foreground for my kids, and let the other stuff fade into the backdrop.
As you prepare your hearts and homes this Christmas, what are some ways that you plan to intentionally reflect on the birth of Christ with your children?