OK. I need to hear from some of you. Who has decorated their Christmas tree completely alone?
Well, I did yesterday and I have to say, I wasn’t feeling very merry about it. I tried to make myself feel better with the knowledge that no one could help me because my kids are grown and living on their own. But the truth is, even when they were living with me, there were many years I strung lights and placed bulbs solo. That’s just what seems to happen at my house.
Now, I’m not completely complaining. I love Christmas and I insist on buying the biggest balsam fir we can squeeze into our living room. My husband almost has me believing that if I got a smaller one he might help me decorate it. Almost.
So you’d think that I’d learn. Every year, it’s me and the tree. Sometimes I make a fire and put on Christmas music but not this year. I just wanted to get the whole thing over with. I was exhausted from a grueling work schedule, and I wanted to hurry up and get the thing decorated.
Once I had the lights on, my mood brightened. Then I pulled the ornaments out one by one. The first had a photo of my son on it taken when he was five. I missed him. Then I grabbed one that my mother always hung on her tree every year. My heart hurt. She loved Christmas and if she was still alive, she would have surely helped me decorate. There was a tennis ball reminding me of my daughter’s tennis career in high school, a kayak symbolizing my husband’s love for the outdoors, and a llama ornament that I bought for my daughter when she lived in South America.
Before I realized it, my eyes were welling with tears. Decorating the tree became a version of “this is your life,” and I was seeing it all alone. As I meticulously placed each piece on the tree, I forgot about how sorry I felt for myself that I was decorating the tree, once again, all alone.
I was meditating on what a blessed life I have lived.
If there are moments for each of you exhausted mothers (and fathers) working yourself to the bone to make the Christmas season different from all the rest, take heart. In the middle of the fatigue and moments of self pity, there are hints of wonder and grace.
God decorates with you.
He watches and hangs bulbs and whispers to you, “Look at what I have given you.” And the best, He reminds us, is yet to come.
All because He came two thousand years ago to be “God with us.” And even when we are convinced that we live our lives solo, we never do. He is there. And He always will be.