In Christmases past, “Deck the Halls” was the motto when it came to dressing my home in its holiday best. I’ve accumulated every kind of Christmas décor you can imagine, right down to an obnoxious singing wreath. With its huge eyeballs and nasal medley of popular carols, it’s a holiday miracle that my husband hasn’t used the thing for target practice.
Last year, I wasn’t in the mood for going crazy with the decorations. Maybe autumn found me too busy, and therefore too tired, to relish the thought decorating drama. That’s why I decided to go with a clean, simple, “less is more” approach. A front door wreath, a few poinsettias, a tree and—tada—done.
Now, as long as there’s a tree with a steadily increasing pile of gifts, my husband and oldest son are cool with what I do or don’t do as a seasonal decorator. My youngest son is a different story. In Daniel’s mind, you just can’t have too much Christmas clutter, and if you need to move an heirloom desk onto the patio to make room for that Frasier Fir, well…do what you’ve gotta do.
As it turned out, the minute I resolved to do less was also the minute I knew I’d do more. The disappointment on Daniel’s face abruptly ended my plans to be a decorating scrooge.
“Lord, help,” I whispered in a petition for strength. “That child is going to drag out every knickknack, every bell, every scrap of fa-la-la in this house.”
We live in a neighborhood comprised of approximately 60 streets and more homes than I have the math skills to estimate. We’re a huge community that would thrill Martha Stewart with our willingness to haul out the holly and string up the lights at Christmas.
Daniel and I began taking frequent night tours of the hood to check out the Christmas kaleidoscope our neighbors created. Some homes were a blizzard of white lights while others were as multi-colored as sugar cookies. We had elves climbing trees and a menagerie of reindeer, polar bears and penguins. Flood lights illuminated magnificent wreaths and Christmas trees took center stage in front windows. Many lawns played host to inflatable scenes and characters that depicted a winter wonderland. And yes--some even risked offending others by displaying the nativity. (As far as I’m aware, nobody complained.)
I must say, the entire neighborhood was gorgeous in its holiday finery, but certain homes stood out in the crowd--and not because they were the biggest or most lavishly decorated. What was it, then, that set them apart?
Surprisingly, it was snowmen. Certain homes had adorned their lawns with snowmen characters that did more than light up like the ones I’ve seen in years past. These new Frosty’s possessed a subtle shimmer, a sparkle that made us stop and look twice.
The sparkle, of course, was all in the lighting.
If these snowmen had been humans who happened to be Christians, they would have definitely allowed their lights to shine before men. Even as innate objects, they were still an inspiring reminder that Christians should also stand out during the Christmas season.
So--how’s that sparkle when we arrive at the mall and discover the nearest parking space is somewhere on Jupiter? What about when we’re inside the mall, trapped in a people jam that clogs the food court? How about those high prices and combative shoppers? Does our light shine amongst the multitudes who have replaced “goodwill towards men” with “it’s all about me”?
The hustle bustle will drain the joy right out of Christmas, making a merry attitude as prickly as holly and causing a saint’s patience to blow like a faulty strand of lights. Generosity can run so dry that even the Salvation Army Santa is mistaken for a menace.
The season of Christ’s birth can be one of the hardest times to obey His command to “Love one another.” (John 13:34 NIV) Yet, Jesus says that is what sets us apart. “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (v. 35)
May you sparkle this Christmas…and every other day of the year.
Remember, it’s all in the lighting.
“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12 NIV)