So I have these rules, these rituals. And one of them involves not decorating for Christmas until after Thanksgiving. The very next day.
Truthfully, I love this ritual. I pull out my Christmas dishes late Thanksgiving night, make the table all festive. I assemble the tree and fluff the branches, and I make sure Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby are ready to serenade us first thing. I plan a special breakfast. And then I fight for sleep all night, probably the way kids do before actual Christmas morning. Now that I have children, I love this ritual even more – the excitement in their eyes and voices as they realize the Christmas season is here!!! We eat together, and then we spend the day decorating the tree and transforming the entire place into a magical Christmas wonderland. Every room gets something. Really, I love this official welcoming of the season so, so much.
But this year, it has been different. I was trying my best to hold out. It didn’t work.
This past year has been so, so hard for our family. And just a few months ago, things got even harder, heartbreaking. Then all of a sudden, there was this surge of hope, faith, promise followed by . . . well, disappointment. More waiting. Hard questions and no answers. I must confess, over the past couple of weeks, I could feel the discouragement wrapping itself around me tighter and tighter, choking off my breath, threatening to crush me.
And suddenly, I needed Christmas now. Not in another week. Certainly not in another month. Now. Right now.
I need the hope of promises long awaited finally and gloriously fulfilled.
I need the grace of a majestic King who chooses to reveal Himself first to lowly, humble shepherds – the least and the forgotten.
I need the miracle of people walking in darkness seeing a great light.
I need the reality of the Word – the abstract and intangible – being made flesh and living among us, close enough to touch.
So . . . our tree is up. The kids picked out funny sparkly dinosaurs for their ornaments this year.
And I smile every time I remember the very first Christmas I shared with my love, and the future seems to rise up in front of us again full of promise.
Our family meals have an added sparkle.
We’re spending more of our evenings, snuggled up, experiencing old and new holiday movies.
And I didn’t go for a marathon day of decorating. I am spreading it out, savoring, pulling items out little by little when we need a new dose of Christmas now.
Sometimes it’s ok to break the rules.