Christmas has evolved over the years in our household . . . I do not mean it has gotten easier. It will never get easier because I married a woman who loves Christmas and has amassed a huge array of decorations to commemorate the season—who believes she has to use them to decorate every inch of the house—and, who happens to be an artist (which means everything has to be done just right). Despite the zealousness of the wife with her Christmas decorating and spirit, I have to admit that she does a wonderful job of transforming our home into a beautiful tribute to the season. Still, Christmas has evolved over the years in our household . . .
From the first years of attempting to scrape together enough decorations to decorate our one bedroom apartment at seminary to the extravaganza it is today, the wife has gotten it down to an art. We have a system . . . our Christmas comes in a box, actually a whole heck of a lot of boxes! It works like this: I lug all the boxes up from storage in the basement; I unpack the tree from the box and put it together (it comes complete with its own lights so that I do not have to spend hours cussing and swearing attempting to make the lights work and look just right); and, then I disappear until the holiday whirlwind is complete several hours later. It is a system that works for us and it helps keep my blood pressure down.
Our Christmas comes in boxes . . . lots and lots of boxes. The boxes hold everything from ornaments for the tree to the crèche. We have ornaments that go back to our childhoods, the children’s childhoods, and everything in-between. We have religious ornaments, storybook character ornaments, homemade ornaments, ornaments tied to the places where we have lived, ornaments with sports themes, pet themes, and even Santa Claus. We have enough ornaments to decorate several 8 to 9 foot trees—which we used to do when we lived in larger homes. There is no shortage of ornaments in our household, which is kind of nice because every year it is like opening a present to see what we have forgotten.
We have boxes of lights . . . which we no longer use, but I hate throwing away anything . . . you never know when you might need a string of useless lights. We have boxes of figurines . . . everything from the baby Jesus to the critters in the stable to help us get into the spirit of Christmas. We have boxes of pinecones, greenery, Christmas plates, tinsel, stars, and moons. We have blankets, stuffed animals, and even a trout for the season. You name it and we probably have it . . . somewhere in a box.
Out of the boxes we unpack our Christmas. The transformation takes several hours . . . lots of whine (sometimes even the type that comes in bottles) . . . and a few non-Christmas-like statements. Years ago I was banned from the decorating . . . I think of it as being in self-exile, because I do not have an artist’s eye and have a tendency to group the decorations incorrectly. It seems that the kids’ action figures do not belong in the crèche with the baby Jesus. Nor should too many blue (or any color) be grouped together as it ruins the feng shui. So, I slap up the tree, make sure all the lights work, and I retreat until I am told it is safe to come out. That is a part of our system, too.
Yet, the wife and I, the children and visitors, have always commented that our home looks beautiful . . . that it is Christmassy . . . and, it is. There is no denying that fact. Each year our house makes Martha Stewart cry in appreciation for the artistic endeavor that transforms our home into a Christmas wonderland.
So it is this afternoon that the transformation has begun. The snow is softly falling like a velvety carpet across the landscape. Christmas music is playing . . . the wife is humming along to the music and the task at hand. Christmas is in the air and in a couple of hours it will be done. Then later this evening we will all sit in the living room looking at the lit tree, contemplating the season . . . this Christmas that came out of boxes. As we sit in the silence and beauty of the moment, deep down we realize that the season did not start with the unpacking of boxes. No, it began with the unpacking of our hearts as we all worked together to bring this transformation about. It came with the laughter and music . . . it came with the family gathered together . . . it came with the snow gently falling.
Though it seems as if we got our Christmas from boxes, it wasn’t their unpacking that makes it Christmas . . . that comes from within as all of unpack our hearts. It takes a while for most of us to understand this . . . at least for me it did. For too many years I was always worrying about making sure Christmas was about the things in those boxes . . . making sure it realized the dreams of my children . . . of fitting into what most of us think Christmas should be. Christmas is not about what comes out of a box, it is about what comes out of the heart. Christmas is not a destination, it is a journey. As I said earlier, Christmas has evolved in our household . . . I wish I had learned that sooner. It sure is beginning to look and feel like Christmas around here!