Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Keeping Christmas After The Decorations Are Put Away

      As I sit in my favorite chair, enjoying our Christmas decorations, I feel a tinge of sadness at the thought of taking down the cheery, festive signs of my favorite holiday.  The lights along the fireplace mantle, with the gaily colored candles, flowers, and manger scene, the Christmas tree, glittering and bright, our Christmas plates, flowers,  baskets, and my ever-growing collection of Christmas books; these will soon be put away until next Thanksgiving weekend, when they will make their annual trek from the attic to the living room, dining room, and kitchen.   I get this feeling every year when it is time to start thinking about putting away the Christmas things and getting the house "back to normal."
     There's the creche, which had belonged to my mother and father, and which I had loved, even as a child when my mom would lovingly put it under the Christmas tree.  It is now the focal point of my fireplace mantle, bringing us hope and feelings of peace and love during this season of beauty and joy.  The ornaments on the tree make us smile as we recall the story about each one, and the memories they bring.  Christmas pictures lovingly painted by our grandchildren adorn our refrigerator, and tell us how much they love us.  We use the serving plates my husband's mother made for us so many years ago to make our table festive.  Everywhere I look, Christmas is evident.   I am overwhelmed with peace and hope as we sit here each evening, enjoying the comfort and safety of our home.  I will miss the lights, the sparkle, the glistening, festive touches placed so carefully to create our Christmas haven.            
     But, alas, the time is coming when these outward signs of peace and joy must be taken down.  The mantle will still have some candles, which I love for their warmth and soft glow.  Our usual accent pieces, which had been put away until after the holidays, will once again replace the Christmas tree and other Christmas objects.  Our family pictures, familiar and loved books, gifts from family and friends, and objects we chose together to adorn our home will reclaim their rightful places on our walls and tables and furniture, and bring us joy.  
      When all is said and done,  Christmas will still be very much alive in our home.  For the love and peace we feel does not come from these objects, but it starts deep inside us.   It is the culmination of years of nurturing and caring from our parents, love and concern from our loved ones, children and siblings and friends.  It is the undeserved and unconditional love of God our Father, who comes at Christmas in His simple way, bringing us peace and hope; to remind us how much He loves and cares for us, and of his promise that He will always be with us.
    May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him."     (Romans 15:13 NIV)

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