I saw a message the other day on my neighborhood NextDoor site with a post from a woman who wrote she’s a mom who loves to decorate and put up tree ornaments during the holidays to supplement her income. I thought, “genius!” Boy would I love to put her talents to work. Don’t get me wrong, I love our Christmas decorations and all our beloved ornaments, but they are quite a quiet stress. The weary world rejoices? Maybe when you’re all done decorating. Amiright?
With that being said, what are your thoughts? Do you happily anticipate the holiday décor deluge or do you quietly dread doing so? I’m totally somewhere in the middle and each year I bring them out and put them up. And, in perfect sync with my OCD mind, most of our décor is grouped: nativities, snowmen, nutcrackers, angels, reindeer, Santas, and even little white things. Our mantel is too and is one of my favorites.
My mother-in-law started me years ago collecting Byer’s Choice Carolers and to this day they sing away on our mantel and still remind me of her. I throw in our year-round golfer caroler cuz why not and I have a separate girl caroler in our kitchen cuz she’s a cooking caroler. She stands next to my cooking Santa, cooking Mrs. Claus, and cooking nutcracker. Again, all with their like buddies. What’s on your mantel? Do you decorate by theme?
Then there’s the tree. We are a real tree family but every year I debate suggesting a fake one. And then, our real tree goes up, is adorned with treasured ornaments, and I’m always grateful for a real one. Is your tree real or fake…em I guess “artificial” is the PC name. Silly me. (Bonus tree info: if you’re looking for a beautiful kid’s holiday book, check out “The Night Tree.” They’ll love it and you’ll love it.)
Above is the beginning of my brother-in-law’s tree. He starts out with golf course bag tags from all over and then adds traditional ornaments. It’s a very fun theme and one he really enjoys doing. As for our ornaments, they are all very sentimental. No fancy or themed-tree in our house. We have ornaments from the beginning of our married life, ornaments of and for our daughter including her first one and many she made, some from our own childhoods, tons from our travels, others were gifts, and the rest are just a potpourri of memories. Our topper is a beautiful angel I bought our first year of marriage and despite a fall one year that broke her head off (easily glued back together), she still stands strong and is very special to me. Something else that’s very special to me is the memory I have of our childhood tree always having one of those old-school star toppers. What about you? What’s your topper? Does your tree have a theme?
Tradition has it, that regardless of what kind of tree you have, gifts go under it. Where tradition bends a bit, is when those gifts are opened. We open on Christmas Eve but I know many of you open them Christmas Day. One tradition we have in our family is that Kristen gets three presents and three presents only. That’s been the case since she was old enough to remember and is the case still today in her adult years. It seems like so many kids get anything and everything they want and under the tree is a somewhat obscene pile of gifts, but when Kristen was a baby I read the “only three gifts” story and it’s simply that if three were good enough for Jesus, they’re good enough for us. It makes shopping a bit easier and a bit more intentional.
Last but not least, there’s the baking. Raising my hand here in full disclosure that I am not a baker. I have some traditional goodies I make each year, and thankfully my husband and daughter’s favorite is my Holly Treats, shown above, that are similar to Rice Krispie Treats and just as easy to make. I also have a really good and pretty simple recipe for Ginger Snaps that a former neighbor shared with me.
A yummy tradition I don’t make (maybe this year!) but always have around are Biscochitos. Bisco what? These yummy cookies are a Santa Fe and New Mexico tradition that my mom always made as did moms and grandmas across my hometown. Similar to a sugar cookie or Snickerdoodle but with anise, Biscos are Christmas and it’s just not Christmas without them.
For me, it’s all about memories made and making more. It’s never an easy task to decorate for the holidays, but the thought of not doing so is not an option. Take your time and think about why you’re doing it. Not for show and not for dough…unless it’s cookie dough. Nope, you do it for your family and for Him. We may be weary through it all, but we can still rejoice.
That’s pretty much the message in a popular Bible verse. It is one of the most popular scriptures and is often quoted in both secular and non-secular worlds. It talks about being patient, kind, and honest and not being envious, proud, or rude. It was read during my wedding and I had to memorize it to be initiated in my college sorority. It is, 1 Corinthians: 13. So many of us have heard it, know it, and love it. But, did you know there is a Christmas version? It’s not found in the bible, but it’s well worth a read. Enjoy!
1 Corinthians 13 Christmas Version
If I decorate my house perfectly with strands of twinkly lights and shiny balls
but do not show love to my family, I am just a decorator.
If I slave away in the kitchen baking dozens of Christmas cookies and them on a beautifully
adorned table but do not share the true meaning of Christmas, I am just another cook.
If I volunteer at a soup kitchen, carol in a nursing home, and donate to charity
but do not demonstrate simple kindness to strangers, it profits me nothing.
If I attend holiday parties but do not go to church, I have missed the point.
Love stops cooking to hug a child.
Love sets aside decorating to kiss a spouse.
Love is kind during the holidays though harried and tired.
Love doesn’t envy another’s home that has coordinated Christmas place settings,
perfectly strung outdoor lights, or a picture perfect tree.
Love doesn’t ask family to get out of the way but is thankful they are in the way.
Love doesn’t give only to those who are able to give in return or those on our lists,
but rejoices in giving to those who can’t and those who aren’t.
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things.
Love never fails, even at Christmas.