Gold or toilet paper – what will you bring to the stable?

It had been a long drive – and a long stay away from home. How grateful I was that my Aunt’s house was “on the way home” – relatively, anyway. (No pun intended – sorry) The luminaries lining her sidewalk and drive were lovely in the late afternoon winter dusk and the fluffy white snowflakes completed the picture of that cold Pennsylvania evening.

Walking into my Aunt’s house was like stepping into a Martha Stewart TV set. The Christmas tree was tall and perfectly shaped. On it hung small plates, matching colored glass balls, ribbons and small pillows with “peace”, “joy” and “love” embroidered on them in gold. The packages under the tree were perfectly color coordinated. Ahhh – the sister of my mother – they were two peas in a pod when it came to Christmas. There were no corners of the house left undone! I had been taught well.
If the decorating was exquisite, the spread of food was beyond our imagination – I counted 23 different kinds of cookies, 4 types of spreads and 3 small cocktail loaves of bread. There was pumpkin cake, butter cake and fruit cake. The plates caught the Christmas lights hanging in the kitchen and the forks reflected the candles that they were sitting under. The table was beautiful.
“Come here” she said “you’ve GOT to see this.” She grabbed my arm and with GREAT delight she took me into the family room where the Christmas tree sat. It looked like someone had tp’ed her tree….was this what she wanted to show me? “THERE!” She WAS pointing to the tree…. I stood in silence, unsure of what to say. “Wow” was all I could manage. “Wow indeed!!” she said “Can you believe those kids? Look, they captured every member of the nativity – they even put in a whole flock of sheep.” Sheep? Those little wads of toilet paper looking things were sheep?? I stepped closer. I guess they were. There on the tree were the simple efforts of new Believers who were enthralled with the story of the birth of their Savior. They wanted their newfound love to be reflected in all that they did – so because they didn’t know how to decorate Christmas as a Believer, they made their own decorations.

Two trees….totally different in their focus. One visually breathtaking – truly a work of art. The other – simple and rather cluttered looking, but spiritually breathtaking. It was then that I realized I had a choice – I could choose to pour out my strength and my energy toward creating a celebration that was rich with beauty or I could allow the beauty of our holiday to be the Savior Himself…. Which would I choose?

I can’t say I have fully succeeded. I am the product of my family, after all. But, I no longer kill myself (and nag my family in the process) to make our holiday “just right.” Now, it’s much simpler, much richer and by far more beautiful. I am inviting you – nay, I exhort you to seek Father for a way to make your holiday filled with TRUE beauty and not that which is fleeting and easily destroyed. As we start into this process of thinking how to…what to celebrate, I pray it will be on all our hearts that we must choose between gold or toilet paper.

(edit: My conscience requires that I clarify – though I’m better, this IS a resident battle in my heart.  I still spent time last year looking for paper to match my decorations. 🙄 I also spent WEEKS shopping for the right ornaments.  Granted, I was looking for specific things – a world, a lantern, a scroll, etc – all to fit the December devotional I had written for the kids, BUT STILL…. Oh and hey…if you find any white and gold wrapping paper, email me, would ya??) 😉 😀

5 Responses to “Gold or toilet paper – what will you bring to the stable?”
  1. Elissa says:

    Your story just reminded me of a time when we were driving through our neighborhood and passed a house who had had thier front tree tp’ed, the regular way with great droopy strings of tp everywhere. When my little sister, who was preschool age at the time, saw it, she excitedly cried out “Angels!”. I guess it is all how you look at it!

  2. javadawn says:

    It is!! I love your story – that is REALLY neat. (I don’t remember thinking that, however, when our house got tp’d. My folks were the youth leaders and one weekend while we were gone, the kids put up a HUGE sign that said, “Our toilet overflowed” and they used 250 !!!!! rolls of tp and 200 # of confetti. We picked up pieces of both for the next 5 yrs! 🙄 It took 15 garbage bags to collect the tp alone. 😆 There was NO thought of “angels” when we were cleaning up, I assure you!)

  3. Elissa says:

    Oh, Dawn, that sounds awful!!

  4. Sarah says:

    Dawn, this beautiful piece dropped my jaw and brought tears to my eyes! THANK YOU for the perspective!
    See, I come from the “other side” of the Christmas deco-camp; we never did really fashionable decorations of any kind. So, I occasionally find myself fighting off the “it’s not good enough… it’s never good enough” disease.

    And then, He reminds me that His Grace is sufficient for me; His strength is made perfect in my weakness; He held no beauty that we should behold Him; the poor are always with us; even the cup of cold water is rewarded; He is no respecter of persons (or houses, as it turns out).

    Thank you for being part of His reminders to me this year! Hey, if my children are growing closer to Him and all who enter feel welcome and warmed, then my home will be happily TP’d this year!

    Thanks, girl!!!

  5. javadawn says:

    You know the thing I struggle with is the balance between having a season that is beautiful – but for the purpose of ministry – and STILL wholly holy. It’s SO hard for me to find that balance. I know it’s out there, as I’ve had a taste of it, but *I* haven’t fully arrived yet. I want to. I WANT TO!!
    (I know that it ALWAYS has to do with the state of my heart. Sigh…it would be easier if it just had to do with what I did or didn’t do. LOL)

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