Today it dawns on me that doing a decoration a day is not going to get the job done by the deadline. At some point I should pick up the pace if I am to be fully prepared. To that end, I put a wreath on the front door, pull out a favorite Christmas plate and ponder what next to do? So many possibilities. So many memories with each decoration I unpack. And who will see these decorations of mine, anyway? No one is coming. I am ever mindful of this reality even as I go through the motions of Advent.
Some celebrations are meant to be shared. Actually, show me one that is not. There’s an old Swedish proverb that says, “Shared joy is a double joy, shared sorrow is half a sorrow.” We are not meant to live in isolation and fear. When the COVID czars figure this out, our mental health, our overall health (including natural immunities currently weakened by fear and constant stress) will improve and we will all be better off, especially as we return to our gyms, to our churches and to our regular doctor’s appointments, now long put off and postponed in the name of COVID.
So today I decide to start with the window sill over my kitchen sink. I used to put a little village of sorts there, some tiny evergreen trees, a snowman and a little house. These were my mom’s at one time. Actually, they were my grandma’s before they were hers. Did I mention I come from a long line of dedicated Christmas decorators? Their homes were full of Christmas. Everywhere you looked there was some Christmas surprise.
I remember Mom filled the house with fresh evergreen, which she sprayed with silver spray paint to give it a certain look, I guess. This she made into a wreath for over the mantle and also filled the mantle with the fresh and also freshly painted pine branches. The house smelled like pine and spray paint mixed together for days, until cookie baking smells took over. But I digress.
Today I place three small plastic Santas in the window where the village used to be. My cat discovered the tiny pine trees of the village and would destroy them if left unsupervised, so now I put my three plastic Santas there every year. These are Santas I remember from my grandma’s house at Christmas. I call them my dime store Santas. (yes, we had a “dime store”, probably the forerunner of today’s dollar stores) And our dime store was a wondrous place. Crowded floor to ceiling with too many things to take in all at once, it’s best feature was a large fish tank full of gold fish that you could purchase. You could pick out the fish you wanted to take home and then watch while they scooped your fish up out of the tank with a net. I confess – it was always a tough decision for me, which fish to select. Never mind they were all goldfish. I liked to think I could tell them apart, recognizing their individual uniqueness.
So today as I set out my plastic dime store Santas, I remember Grandma and Mom and trips to the Dime Store downtown. I guess treasure doesn’t have to be expensive to be treasure. I am receiving a gift today from this Advent season of preparation. It is the gift of connection, the gift of sweet memories. (ok, two gifts) Advent is all about remembering – remembering that Jesus came and that His coming connects me to God, my Creator, in a way the Law has never been able to do. Just ask the Israelites, they’ll tell you. The Law couldn’t save them because they couldn’t keep the Law. God knows they tried.
“Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. Therefore no one will be declared righteous in His (God’s) sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.” (Romans 3:19-20)
The Jewish people knew they needed a Savior and they were waiting for this promised Messiah. They just didn’t recognize Him when He arrived. I don’t want to make that same mistake. Jesus is clearly God’s provision for me to be reconciled to Him. Jesus is my connection to my Heavenly Father.
“But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” (Romans 3:21-24)
It is Jesus. Jesus is the connection. Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham all those centuries ago when God told Abraham,
“and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” (Genesis 12:3)
It is through Abraham’s descendants that Jesus came into this world bringing with Him light, life, redemption, hope, joy, healing, mercy, truth, grace, – more things than can be listed here. Jesus, God’s gift to us, brings to us more gifts of God than we could ever unwrap in a lifetime.
Today I thank God for His gifts of memory and connection. My Christmas decorations connect me to my family, being the bearers of those special memories. As I prepare to celebrate Christ’s birth, I get to remember all over again to what great lengths my Heavenly Father went in order to connect with me personally. Extraordinay!
Jesus has come! Jesus is coming! Time to get ready to receive Him! Advent is here!
“Lift up your heads, O you gates; be lifted up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. Who is this King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle. Lift up your heads, O you gates; lift them up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. Who is He, this King of glory? The Lord Almighty – He is the King of glory.” (Psalm 24:7-10)
preparing a place for Him,
sincerely, Grace Day