Decorating for Christmas

A number of years ago, when we were not expecting any of our family or friends to be with us during the Christmas season, I decided that it was too much trouble to put up a Christmas tree. At that time, we were still using cut trees, which were far more complicated to prepare. There were no pre-strung lights, no automatic solid base. Once it was up, the tree required water in the pan, but still continued to shed needles. My decision was quite sensible. But as I was driving home after some errands, I passed a tree lot, and it tugged at my heart. I began to re-think my decision. To my great joy, when I arrived home, a package containing a small, live, pre-lit, pre-decorated tree was in the garage! My sister’s gift saved me from that tree lot! We had a tree, and it was ideal for our situation.
The year that we were in the process of moving from our house in Dayton to our house in Kettering, we “made do” with a small ceramic tree that belonged to my parents, a gift from friends who made it for them. Our granddaughter Isabelle was quite upset with me for not having a tree! I promised her that it would only be for one year. The next year, she helped us select the tree that sits in our living room. She chose well!
Once again, we are in a year when our entertaining will be limited, and it was tempting to forgo some of the traditions of the season. The outdoor lighting I hoped to achieve has been sidelined by the extended process of pouring a new driveway and digging up much of the landscaping around the house. When the work is completed, we will have electrical outlets which should make it easier to string lights, and new plantings that will be attractive. But that’s for another year.
I read a post from a friend who has not yet put up his tree, since his son will not be coming home for Christmas and he is in a different home from the past few years. When he expressed his reluctance to decorate, countless people encouraged him to rethink that decision. They recognized that there is healing for our despair in surrounding ourselves with signs and symbols that hold memories of precious moments and beloved people. Many suggested that we should all take pictures of our trees or decorations, and flood the internet with signs of joy.
Our hearts are aching that we cannot gather in our beloved sanctuary for holy moments on Christmas Eve. We will be seeing fewer of our friends and family in person, as we cancel open houses, parties and celebrations. We are grieving the loss of loved ones from COVID19 and other diseases, and our inability to be with them for final moments and last conversations. It is difficult not to lose hope, even though there are breakthroughs in vaccines that offer some good news. We, too, might be tempted to “skip” Christmas Eve, since it just won’t be the same. But the light is coming. We may be people walking in darkness, but we have seen a great light. “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness doesn’t extinguish the light.”
We are waiting, but our waiting time need not be a time of fear or doubt. We know that “God is with us,” Emmanuel. So, let us decorate our homes and our lives with light and love. Let’s bake the cookies and prepare the foods that hold memories of times of rejoicing. Let’s light up the world with acts of kindness and generosity through donations to worthy causes. Let’s remind the world, and ourselves, that Christ is coming soon.
Stay safe and be blessed,
Pastor Barbara

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