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??) 😉 😀