By Dawn Reed
I just finished decorating everything for Christmas. Whew! I’m pooped! It seemed to take forever because I kept starting and stopping. It took so much longer than usual.
I think there’s a Poltergeist or something weird in our attic. It’s the most bizarre thing. After every Christmas season, I take down the tree, carefully boxing up the lights, ornaments and other decorations in big Rubbermaid tubs. Then, the following Christmas, I get everything out to do it all over again. Without fail, every year, several strands of lights fail to work. Last year, we bought all new lights!
This week, as I prepared our home for the holidays, I carefully re-shaped the tree to look more realistic. For everything to be just right I re-arranged the furniture-not once but twice. I hate asking for help and nearly got a hernia moving the sectional around. The area rug kinked up under the couch legs and I accidentally unhitched the thing.
Christmas tree lights are NOT my favorite. I took a breath as I began to string them on the top section of the tree. My beloved loves the old-style big lights like his grandmother had. We got all new LED lights last year, but now only a few of the strands still worked! I placed each bulb carefully but they only covered half the tree. Off to Walmart I went for more.
Purchasing five new sets of lights, I told the cashier that something in my attic keeps messing up my Christmas lights. She was unconcerned.
Back at home, I continued my task. Man, this was taking forever! I was totally out of the Christmas mood now. I whispered a prayer, though it might sound silly. The Christmas decorations are a big deal to me. I hope each person who enters the parsonage will be blessed by them. I want their hearts to be stirred with the Christmas spirit as soon as they walk in the door! Red and green plaid curtains are in the windows along with evergreen wreaths. Stockings and garland are hung on the fireplace mantel with care. Nativities are displayed on tables with open Bibles, glass lanterns and a Menorah. You won’t find us on Pinterest but it’s cozy.
With the new lights in place on the lower half, it was very clear that the top strand bulbs were the wrong colors. The yellows and blues were totally different. Stinkin’ lights! I had to take the top section off and re-strand. (It wouldn’t be a big deal but the old-fashioned kind CLIP ON EACH BRANCH.) I un-clipped and re-clipped every single bulb. Six months later-it seemed, I re-inserted the top section of the tree into the tree frame/pole. Ready to plug it in, I realized I had draped the strand with the wrong end first. The extension cord wouldn’t reach. I had to RE-STRAND the re-stranded lights! Stinkin’ lights!
I had to take a break! I was totally out of the Christmas mood. I put the lid on the Rubbermaid tub that held the tree decorations. They would have to wait until tomorrow.
The next day as I restarted my decorating, I heard something that really made me think. I was listening to a sermon by Kyle Idleman, pastor of a church in Louisville. It was part of a series from last December. He said, “We shouldn’t just prepare our homes for Christmas, but also prepare our hearts.” I stopped in my tracks. I had spent so much time wrestling with my Christmas tree and the lights. Curtains had been ironed. Everything previously on the mantel and tables had been taken down, packed up and put away to make room for decorations. Every picture had been wrapped with red and green paper to look like Christmas presents. It had taken forever!
Now that our home is prepared, I DO need to make sure I put the same effort into preparing my HEART! I can do that by reading the Christmas story throughout the season. There is so much to be gleaned from it no matter how many times I’ve read it in Luke 1-2 and Matthew 1-2. Through the Scriptures I can follow Mary and Joseph from Nazareth all the way to Bethlehem as they pay their taxes. I can hang out in the stable as the promised Messiah makes His appearance. I can keep watch with the shepherds and be amazed at the angels bringing good news. I can picture and remember the beautiful Baby lying in the hay. I can be praying and thanking God every day and not just be asking for stuff. I can make sure I go to church whenever possible no matter what other things come my way. Christmas is on Sunday this year so I can look at being in God’s house as an exciting opportunity instead of a distraction from our usual festivities. I can remember that it’s not MY birthday.