It doesn’t “feel” like Christmas

Despite our efforts to celebrate, it doesn’t feel much like Christmas around here. And there are so many things that contribute to that…Michael’s passing, Husband’s crazy work schedule, warm Southern weather, and work. Instead of sipping hot cocoa and cozying up in front of a warm fire, I’m writing about child slavery, trafficking, abuse and war crimes. It’s enough to get anybody down. But no amount of grief staves off Christmas and it is coming full force.

One thing that I’ve determined for this holiday season is to give myself grace…

While we don’t always feel like celebrating right now, it is important to us on many levels–important to recognize the gift of our Lord’s birth, important to continue living (really living) in spite of our loss, and important to honor those we have lost by never taking for granted those we still have with us. So we will celebrate this season, but we will do it in simplicity and with a focus on the true reason we celebrate this season.

To make things a little easier on myself this year, I’m mostly using the decorations I already have, and even at that I have left those less important to me wrapped up for another year. We did celebrate our tradition of cutting our own tree and we made our gingerbread house, but I’ll only be baking ONE kind of Christmas cookie, not ten. And I’ll only be using lights that actually work, instead of spending hours fixing those that don’t.

Searching for the perfect tree

This is our third Christmas since we married in 2010, and each year I have desired to display a crèche (nativity) among my other decorations–a reminder that Christmas isn’t all about the wrapping paper and lights and wreaths, but about a sacred, holy and glorious birth. But I didn’t want to just buy any old crèche, I wanted a beautiful one–one that reflects my belief that Christ’s birth was a beautiful gift from God. This year, even though money is tight, I knew that I needed this reminder to help me celebrate the season, so I pulled together coupon codes and sales and shipping deals and purchased this lovely scene that now graces my mantel.

I received free tickets to the Virginia Symphony Orchestra’s performance of The Messiah, and (although I’ve seen it many times before) it spoke to me in a whole new way this year. The reminder that it isn’t about Santa Clause, or even snow, but about our Savior–and that is something I can celebrate no matter how difficult life gets. Because His birth, His life, His death and resurrection–they are all part of a bigger plan to redeem this broken world. And I cannot wait for the day He returns to complete His good work on earth.

Meanwhile, I think this self-enforced simplicity is not only good for this time in our lives, when we are short on both emotional and physical energy, but also as we head into the future. Every year, our lives become more and more complicated. I have been making a concerted effort to simplify things this year, and I believe I’ve done pretty well! This is one more way to take care of ourselves and intentionally create the life we desire to have, all the while remembering that it is Christ we live for, and not ourselves.

So while the impetus is so grievously sad, we can create a blessing out of our current state.

So in the theme of keeping it simple, here’s a peek at the little touches we’ve added to our home this holiday…

Christmas ornaments

Christmas decorations

Ginger with her Christmas penguin

Decorating the tree with R

Christmas stockings

Ballet shoes ornament

Lighting up the Christmas tree

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