For our family, this Christmas season has been exactly that. We’ve been playing a game of trial and error. We set out to do things like we’ve always done them: a huge tree, bright stockings, fancy linens on the table, and over the top décor. But each time we completed a task, we felt our hearts weren’t in it. With everything we've been through over the past 2 years, our family has learned to truly value the little things in life. It quickly became apparent to us we were craving something different. Something simpler. It was as if there was a whisper calling us to meditate on the simplicity of the Christmas story. To keep it authentic.
As soon as we returned home from our Thanksgiving travels, the first task at hand was acquiring a tree. This year we decided to skip the store and go straight to the farm. Excitedly, the kids and I headed over to the local tree farm where we were supposed to meet Daddy after work to pick out and cut down our very own tree. After walking around and waiting for an hour, I anxiously called my husband to make sure he was close by. He informed me his meeting went long and he was still at work. At that point, it was already getting a little dark and tiny droplets of water were drizzling down.
By the time he arrived at the farm it was well past sundown and a few minutes shy of closing time. It was also storming. The scene was so chaotic and pitiful, it was actually funny. “You can’t make this stuff up!” Is what my husband likes to say. We laughed and snuggled up under the umbrella as we walked through the pitch black fields using our cell phones as flashlights but trying to keep them from getting wet. We finally found the tree I had picked earlier with the kids (or so I thought), and my dear husband, in his fancy work pants and leather shoes, laid down on the swampy ground to cut down this tree for his family.
We got home and realized the tree was all wrong. It was massive. It was so tall that the top was bending against our ceiling, and so wide it took up half of our living room. We tried trimming the bottom, but the branches were so spread apart and uneven, cutting it made it worse. Every time I glanced at the tree, I squirmed.
For years, our house has been Christmas Eve Central for our extended family. We put together gingerbread houses, bake cookies, and open stockings. For a long time we’d had mismatched stockings. But two years ago, I bought an entire collection of bright and colorful matching stockings for everyone. This year, I pulled out those stockings and lined them up on our mantle.
And I hated them.
Whenever I walked by them, I tried to look away, because maybe if I didn’t see them, they wouldn’t bother me as much. But they still bothered me. They bothered me even when I wasn’t looking at them. Even the stocking holders bothered me. But there was nothing I could do because I certainly didn’t have the budget to purchase new ones.
After having bad experiences with both the tree and the stockings, I was afraid to even attempt to go on. I knew I needed to have a heart to heart with myself about why I wasn’t loving anything and what it was that I wanted instead. I didn’t even bother pulling out my lime green polka dotted runner or my tinsel trees. I had tubs on top of tubs filled with Christmas decorations I knew I wasn’t going to use.
I felt guilty because I wanted to reuse what I already owned and I didn’t want to waste money, but I needed all of us to be happy with our Christmas set up. This year, there has been a pull in all of our hearts for simplicity. After all the loss we’ve experienced these past two years, the simpler things in life have become incredibly appealing to our family. This year, the desire of our hearts is to not only celebrate the birth of Christ as we always do, but to zoom in on the nativity. We always focus on
So, I cut my losses and decided to overhaul our décor. I dumped the tree and got a new, much smaller one. In fact it was so small, it fit right into a little wooden basket. It was so quaint; it was perfect!
The moment we brought that tree into our living room, we all knew this was the right one. In fact, we didn’t even feel a need to decorate it much.
When I thought about where I could go to find a few simple, rustic, Christ-centered pieces, there was only one place I could think of: Family Christian.
At Family Christian, I found a variety of beautiful, wooden ornaments. Each ornament was visually different, but shared the same Christmas message I was looking for. I especially loved the ornaments with lines from my favorite Christmas songs.