Dad used to say, “When you’ve worked really hard, stand back and admire your work.” The Christmas season always gives me plenty of opportunities to do that. I love Christmas! I love it so much that I get carried away with projects that are time-consuming and for this old gal, back breaking! Abd I love to decorate everything. My whole house is transformed at Christmas.
We all celebrate Christmas in different ways, and I’m not saying that if you don’t go bonkers with nativities and twinkling lights that you aren’t doing it right, or that you won’t feel the same feelings that I feel. What I’m saying is that however you celebrate Christmas will bring peace to your heart.
Making a shortcut
For the past four or five years, I keep telling myself that I’ll tone the decorating down a bit because I’m getting too old for this nonsense, but when I begin opening the Christmas bins, the excitement just carries me away. In October, while visiting one of my children and her husband, I mentioned that I was thinking about getting one of those light projectors that display lights all over your house in one shot.
I thought that might make my outside decorating easier on my body. They surprised me with an early birthday present and gave me one. Of course, I got carried away and added it to my outside lights instead of replacing my outside lights with it.
I haven’t quite finished the decorating—but I’m almost there. It is after midnight, and I’m standing back to admire my work. There’s something magical for me about the whole process. No matter how tired I am, my soul seems to revive itself as each light set is tested and lit, and as each nativity is placed in its designated spot. I’ve lost count of the nativity sets I have. Each one is special to me.
As I write this, I’m on my laptop at the kitchen table. I can see the lights on the Christmas tree in the living room, as well as the lights on the buffet that holds most of my nativities and my snow village. If I turn the other direction, I can see the lights on the Christmas tree in the family room (yes, we have two trees), as well as the lights on my mirrored glass china cabinet.
The lights are mesmerizing. I often sit in silence and watch the lights blink from red and green to blue and yellow. Some of my best thinking of the year is done while watching the hypnotic moving lights. I think about the Savior. And about my family. I also think about my spiritual progression.
While we celebrate Christ’s birth at Christmas, we also celebrate His life, ministry, and the great sacrifice He made for us. I think about the Savior throughout the year, but there’s something about the Christmas season that makes it so much more meaningful to me. Every item taken from the Christmas bins becomes a symbol of my love for Him. Every twinkling light brings quiet and peace to my soul, which allows me to think deeper thoughts.
Admiring my work
My back is killing me tonight, yet I’m standing back to admire my work, just as Dad taught me to do. It occurs to me that the sacrifice of a backache is a very small price to pay for the peace that the Christmas season brings to our home. It’s minuscule considering the sacrifice the Savior made for me—for all of us.
When I stand back and admire my work, I’m really not admiring my work at all. I’m admiring the Savior and His redeeming love for us all—because I see that in each Christmas decoration I put up. I was laughing at myself the other day as I opened the bins. Each item I unwrapped gave me more excitement.
At one point, I unwrapped a favorite nativity snow globe and said to myself, “Wow, this is just like Christmas!” Uh, yes, it is Christmas! One of the next things I took out of the bin was a framed countdown to Christmas that my sister gave me a few years ago. Each day you take a dry erase pen and count down how many more days until Christmas.
I did the calculation in my head (dangerous for me), carefully wrote with the dry erase pen, and set it on the end table. Each night before retiring, I change the countdown. On Christmas Day, the countdown will say, “365.” I’ll keep counting down until New Year’s Day when I begin to put it all back in the bins.
Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost mean everything to me. They are the core of who I am as a person. Celebrating the birth of Jesus brings it all back home to me. It gives me strength and courage to keep trying. It makes me want to be a better person. I tend to ponder a little more, share a little more, care a little more, and love a little more.
Decorating my home starts that process for me. Maybe it is something else besides decorating that begins the process for you. Maybe it is a batch of gingerbread cookies. It could be putting a dollar or two in a Salvation Army bucket. Maybe it is going to see the “Nutcracker,” or Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Story” at a local community center theater. Or watching “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” “White Christmas,” or “It’s a Wonderful Life” on television. Whatever brings you the Christmas spirit, opens your heart to new efforts at being the kind of person our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ wants us to be.
So, as I finish decorating for Jesus, my hope and prayer is that you will do whatever it is that you do to bring the spirit of Christmas to your home.
Tudie Rose is a mother of four and grandmother of ten in Sacramento, California. You can find her on Twitter as @TudieRose. She blogs as Tudie Rose at http://potrackrose.wordpress.com. She has written articles for Familius. You will find a Tudie Rose essay in Lessons from My Parents, Michele Robbins, Familius 2013, at http://www.familius.com/lessons-from-my-parents.