Monday, December 6, 2010

Creating Christmas Context

I wasn't going to decorate the house for Christmas this year. I'm not exactly sure why I made that decision. A variety of reasons: Not decorating would leave more time for writing. Instead of hosting Bruce's work party in December, we had it in November this year. The second floor will be painted early in January, requiring more than enough energy to dismantle those rooms without also putting away Christmas decorations. Valid reasons, I guess. I couldn't put my finger on it. Perhaps all the years of doing major decorating simply caught up with me. We will be in Minnesota again this year for Christmas, so why not make things easier for ourselves and not go through the major week long effort to transform the house for the season?

But then...I relented--just a bit--and one thing led to another.

First, the day after Thanksgiving I got out the box of vintage Christmas candles. Our 8 year old granddaughter, Maren, likes to create the seasonal display of old dime-store candles. Since she wasn't here when it was time to arrange the pilgrims and turkeys, it only seemed fair to let her position the angels, Santas, carollers and other sweet reminders of simpler times. What a good job she did!
With a chance encounter with a neighbor, who asked me if I my Christmas bins were out of the storage rooms ready to unload, I could feel myself weakening. Then Bruce created a wonderful sense of welcome on the front porch.
How could I not continue what had been started? The welcome needed to extend inside the house,
and the Santa Als, created by a good and talented friend, a collection that grows every year, needed to take their usual place in the dining room cupboard.

Soon the house was looking like Christmas, but I limited myself. No trees. No unloading the bins of Christmas dishes. I know where they are, and I will unpack them if and when I need them. I limited my time, as well. One day. Not two or three or four or more, as in the days when I replaced curtains with vintage Christmas tablecloths and had a tree in every room. Still, there are Christmas touches throughout the first floor, and I am pleased with this year's context for Christmas.

Decorating the house has always been the first task on my Christmas to do list. I need the setting to move into the season, to begin the other preparations. In an odd way, hanging garland and tying bows and unwrapping delicate mercury glass balls is a way for me to clear the space and bring clarity to what else needs to be done as the days march along. In the presence of the lights and the sparkle and the memories of years past, I regain my composure from feeling overwhelmed by addressing cards and writing letters and shopping and wrapping ETC. ETC. Every morning now when I come down the stairs and see that Bruce has turned on the lights on the banister and the mantel, a welcome to the day, I am reminded of the gifts of this time, the chance I have to deepen my connection to God in every moment.

There is still lots to do, and I suspect I won't be writing much this month, but I love this month. I love these days of whispering snow and a shawl around my shoulder and smells of cinnamon and fresh greens. I love Advent with its active waiting, and I love Christmas graced with connections and hopes and dreams and love remembered and love shared. May this be a time of many blessings for you and yours.


  1. Oh dear fellow elf, I just came down from the attic with 2 bins and wondered how this non-decorating was working for you. I delight in your pictures and words. I am on the ADD decorating mode this year,yet again. But am comforted by God's handiwork outside my windows and the pop of Christmas color in my everyday decorating. The swedish people are arranged in the dining room hutch, I was up very early one morning last week and it was a quiet and very peaceful task, I sensed Mom's pleasure. So little by little, transformation will happen. Blessings from your scattered sister.

  2. An inspiration to me to do the same! I'm usually taking down boxes the day after Thanksgiving, but I have nothing displayed this year except a tablecloth and a live wreath in the entry hall. It's a little bit of creativity and connection to the past that I really love - thank you for the boost.