Thanksgiving is over, Black Friday ads were everywhere you turned this week-end and that means that the Christmas Season is already in full swing. In fact, I saw Christmas decorations up as early as Halloween this year, probably earlier than I have ever seen them before. On top of that, I admit that I, for a fleeing moment, had the urge to put up the outside lights ahead of Thanksgiving. But I contained myself and stuck to the plan.
And that plan is one that Janet and I have subscribed to for the past 39 Christmas seasons – since the year we were married. We believe in celebrating one holiday at a time and that means that nothing having to do with Christmas gets put up or turned on until Thanksgiving is over. After all, Thanksgiving is becoming the forgotten holiday. Merchants are anxious to ring up all the sales they can and other than grocery stores, not too many merchants have much to gain from Thanksgiving. So it’s on to Christmas from Halloween, with barely a stop for the turkey.
So Friday morning, we put away the fine silver and china that we used to entertain on Thursday and then started the annual ritual or getting the house ready for Christmas. I should explain that Christmas is Janet’s favorite holiday – well, really mine also – so we have quite a bit of stuff. Back when we had the “big” house, we actually had 4 Christmas trees, garland up the stairs and around the horseshoe balcony, and all sorts of centerpieces and elaborate displays on all four of our mantels. That was just for starters – we had storage rooms full of decorations. We also generally decorated the evergreen trees in the backyard and I can’t even tell you how many nights Andrew and I have put up outdoor lights.
But much of that changed when we downsized almost 12 years ago. In all honesty, we can’t put up all the decorations we still have. So we change from year to year – and that helps us to have a different look each Christmas. Gradually, I can tell that we are slowing down a little. It used to take us 4 full days to put up all the decorations – and that’s with the kids helping. Now, as we get a little older, we take our time, enjoy the process a little more, and it still takes us three days – putting up less than half of what we used to do.
We still have two trees – one filled with ornaments that we have inherited from family members or things that we have collected throughout the years. The other tree holds ornaments from our trips around the country and the world, as well as a collection of Radko ornaments that we have been accumulating for years now. We still collect additions for the tree on each trip that we take – but we do love the ones that we have had from early in our marriage.
My mother made a number of needlepoint ornaments and each time I put them up, I have recollections from our childhood. The music box with the large three pine trees, the bell pull, and many other things from the past also help reinforce the memories that Janet and I have had for four decades now.
The last three days have been spent putting up our decorations for this year. The Christmas village didn’t make it up this year, but the stained glass nativity that was handmade for us was brought up this afternoon. We added a few new things, but by and large, we are satisfied with what we already have. But make no mistake, Christmas isn’t about the decorations – it is about the celebration of the birth of Jesus. I’m sure that I’ll write much more about that as we move closer to December 25th, but for now, know that the preparations are underway, in our own unique way, for the coming of the King.
The verse for tonight is from the Old Testament. Moses was petitioning Pharaoh to let the people of God leave to honor their God and hold a festival to the LORD. In Ex. 10:9, we are told, “Moses answered, “We will go with our young and old, with our sons and daughters, and with our flocks and herds, because we are to celebrate a festival to the LORD.” And that’s what Christians around the world are getting ready to do – celebrate the birth of our Savior.
My encouragement this evening is to remind you to prepare your mind and your heart for the arrival of the King. Too often, we get caught up in the “things” of the season. And while there is no harm in decorating, remember that Jesus is the reason for the season. My prayer is that you will use the upcoming month to teach your children and grandchildren about the Christian faith and that you will look for ways to reinforce the importance of the Christmas story. In the meantime, have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…