December first, it sure took its time getting here, but then again, it seems just yesterday the new year was beginning. One thing that I have noticed mentioned often, is that so many people, just aren’t feeling it this year.
Its no surprise really. I mean, look what we’ve dealt with these past months. How can we be expected to feel joyous with all that? How, are we supposed to be happy? When so much has been lost, not the least of which are family members. The weather here has turned cold, many places have snow. The trees have lost their leaves and the plant life has gone dormant. The dull, brown colors, making it easy to feel depressed. The stress, making finding joy, difficult.
My son, has always been one of those who did not believe in putting out any decorations ahead of their time. Each holiday deserved their moment. Even though he knows that Christmas is the only holiday for which I decorate, the others still needed to have their moment. I teased him often, but I always waited. One hour after the Thanksgiving meal, we would be found hauling boxes out of storage and down to the house. If the weather permitted, I would be up on the roof stringing lights. I would always check them first, but that didn’t mean that after I spent all that time crawling around on the roof, they would be working when I finally plugged them in. Every year I had battled ornery strands that had issues.
Early last month, I had to go pick my son up from work. There was an issue with the lights on his car and he didn’t want to drive home in the dark and possibly get pulled over. As we were on our way back I was making comments about the houses that had already begun decorating. He told me that I might as well go ahead, maybe it would help cheer us up.
That is another sentiment that I’ve heard often. A lot of people started decorating early. We needed a distraction. We needed to add color to the bland world.
I got all my lights strung outside, and yes, several strands have issues. There is something about blue lights this year. A strand on the house, the strand on my tree and a strand on my bushes, all have lost every blue light. When my son pointed that out, I shrugged. I wasn’t going to start swapping out strands and searching for what ever light was causing the issues. Its fine, they add color, they add a touch of light in the dark and they fit right in with this messed up year. But ya know, I’m not letting that bother me. I have lights up, I got them strung and I didn’t fall off the roof.
I’ve seen folks that have homes decorated in ways that appear that professional decorators stepped in and worked magic. I’ve seen homes decorated in ways that are comfortable and cheery. I’ve seen homes that have a tree and a few modest decorations out. It is still Christmas. It is still special. But you know, it isn’t about the way the house looks inside. It isn’t about how many lights or reindeer or inflatables you have in the yard. It isn’t about, how many packages are under the tree. The meal that the family, no matter how large or small, gathers round, is not the reason. But it is about a gift. A gift to the whole of humanity.
There has always been, always will be, those who do not believe, do not understand how it could be so, but the gift, was so precious and real. A baby, born a lowly birth, wrapped in swaddling cloths and placed in a manger. Not in a fancy palace. Not in a well lit, warm home. Not even in a room in the inn. Born to serve, born to teach, born, to save. The decoration? A star, whose light filled the sky and pointed the way.
While we try to find the reason to be happy, in this mixed up, messed up, screwed up year. We really don’t need to look far.
When we seek out understanding of what the simple birth meant, the purpose of the arrival of this one special child, we can find the reason for the season. Understanding that in truth, it isn’t about the decorations, how many or how few. The decorations may make it more festive, the lights may be meant to resemble the star, but they are not the reason. The evergreen tree, a tree that stays green all year, may be intended to mean an everlasting relationship with God, but the tree, is not the reason. The gifts we give to each other, representing the gifts given to the babe by the Magi, are not the reason.
The reason, is that small babe, wrapped in swaddling cloths and resting in a manger. The reason, is that gift of love.