I have a true confession to make, though.
Last year, I just never got around to it.
I didn't really have any good reasons.
Part of it might have been that it was the first Christmas after my dad died earlier that year. Part of it might have been that it was just going to be "The Hub" and I together on Christmas Day. Part of it might have been that I was just tired and lazy and stressed and discouraged.
But, let me tell you. I regretted not decorating. Big-time. Something was lost by having the "same old house" for the holidays.
This year I determined that I would NOT repeat the same mistake.
So, a few days ago, "The Hub" pulled out the Christmas decoration boxes from the shed, brought them into the house, and we got to work!
We started with our tree.
For all of my life, I have always had a real Christmas tree.
I really enjoyed walking through the tree lots, searching for *the one.*
I loved bringing it home, and lovingly placing the trunk into water and putting a tree skirt around it to keep it warm, and smelling the delicious aroma of fir.
Finding dried out needles in August?
Did not love that so much…
But, I held on to my real-tree tradition like a dog with a branch to chew on.
However, in the summer of 2013, we were evacuated from our mountain home for four days when a wildfire threatened to consume our tiny community.
Later that same year, "The Hub" and I were in a certain home-improvement store when we saw a display featuring artificial trees.
We looked at each other.
I said, "Maybe this is the year we should make the change. It would be so much safer."
He looked back at me and said, "I think you're right."
So, we purchased a "fake tree."
That's what I kept calling it in my head.
But, you know what, after we had assembled the whole thing, and spread out the branches, and lit up the pre-strung tiny white lights – well, I was taken aback.
It looked beautiful.
Full and green and, well, REAL!
As for the delicious aroma of fir?
I just crank up my oil diffuser and fill the house with the wafting scent of *tree*!!
This year I eagerly looked forward to pulling out our tree.
Which I no longer think of as "fake" – it is now lovingly known as self-sufficient!
We have so many ornaments!!
Some that I have saved from when my sons were growing up, and some we've collected throughout our marriage together.
It makes for an interesting mix of Hallmark, cowboy, cabin, wildlife, Southwest, and Santa!
Isn't it interesting how each one of us has our particular *style* when it comes to decorating our trees?
Some like silver and shiny, others like color and bows.
Some trees are green, and some look snowy.
(Sidenote: Truly, does anyone miss that fiberglass stuff we used to stretch across the branches to look like snow, and then spent forever picking bits of it out of our fingers? Or how about those strings of tinsel? I used to carefully place one strand at a time. Others, not mentioning any names (brother), might have thrown entire clumps willy-nilly at random branches).
And then, there's the lights.
Everyone seems to have a preference for that, too.
My mom used to have these bubble lights. You know, the old-fashioned ones that had a little bulb on the end, and then a glass tube with different colored liquid in it. When the lights went on, the liquid would heat up and bubble – all in living technicolor.
Whatever happened to those?
Probably not energy-efficient, and most likely a heat hazard for both tree and human limbs!
OK, so then "The Hub" and I spent two afternoons stringing outdoor lights. (Yes, folks, when I decided to atone for last year's Scrooge Christmas, I decided we were going to go all out!)
We strung lights around our entry, and along the railings, and down the railroad-tie steps that lead up to our house. And then, to complete our fantasyland, we wrapped six of our trees with strings of tiny colored lights. (This took forever, and gave whole new meaning to the idea of being a tree-hugger…)
Last night I walked outside and got into perfect position for viewing.
I shut my eyes, while "The Hub" went to plug it all in.
I sensed the lights on my eyelids, and waited in gleeful anticipation for the unveiling.
"Open your eyes!"
Oh, it was just perfect!
Do you know that I actually jumped up and down and clapped my hands?!
I felt like a child again!
Finally, I attended to all the inside decorations.
I like my inside stuff.
It's a weird, eclectic mix, too!
But all of it has a certain place to go, and a certain way to be displayed.
Especially my *vignettes.*
One of my favorite things is an Advent cabin!
Each day leading up to Christmas, I open a tiny door on either side of the cabin. And, each day I add a small forest creature to the surrounding scene. This morning (the 10th), I added a tiny brown mouse.
I have some Peanuts sets, one depicting a nativity scene. (Guess who baby Jesus is – it's Woodstock!!)
I have also collected Playmobil sets throughout the years.
I have one little scene with icebergs and Eskimos and polar bears and penguins. With, of course, a Santa – who, fortunately, is used to the climate.
Then I have a scene depicting Santa arriving in his sleigh, complete with eight reindeer! Next to that is a light-up Christmas tree surrounded by gifts and toys. There's also a miniature calliope, which amazingly still plays its music after umpteen years!
I especially love my nativity set.
It gives me great joy setting this up.
Of course, I must have all the characters in just the *perfect* place.
The three wise men have to be in their proper order, and angled *just so* toward the baby Jesus. Same thing with the shepherd and the little angels on the other side. (Not to mention the camel, the sheep, the steer, and the donkey!)
And then, of course, I have added Santa.
Because in my mind, Father Christmas believes in Jesus!!
We finished everything last night, and I'm so pleased with the holiday touches to our "not just the same old house."
I've got to give "The Hub" a round of applause for his patience with me.
Because, you see, everything's got to be correct and precise.
And the process of getting everything perfect to my eyes can be tiring.
This year it just might have involved a few extra rounds of re-stringing around a tree trunk (or two…or six) until the lights were perfectly spaced. And it just might have involved a few rearrangements of some ornaments. And it could have possibly entailed a great deal of set decorating to get everyone and everything into their proper places in my vignettes.
But when it was all done, and I took it all in…
And you know what I thought to myself?
"I wonder if this is how God felt when He stood back and looked at His creation?"
Now, there's no way that I have reached that standard of perfection in my meager decorating efforts.
But, I think my satisfaction and joy was a taste of what He felt.
"God saw everything that He had made, and behold, it was very good…" (Genesis 1:31, AMP)
I think He smiled.
I can only imagine His joy in creating life, in all its myriad ways of expression.
Did He hang the Sun and Moon with a shout, and then quietly whisper each star into existence by its own name?
Did He shape the Earth with the care of a Potter's hand, so that it would sustain the life He was bringing?
Did He chuckle at an elephant's trunk, and beam at the majesty of a whale?
Did He laugh at the antics of a chipmunk, and grin at the plumage of a peacock?
Did He take great pride in creating the big creatures, and delight in the tiny members of His newly created Kingdom?
And then, what of man and woman?
The culmination of His creation.
The image-bearers of His very being.
What must He have felt about that?!
How deeply satisfied He must have been at seeing it all *just so* – everything in its proper place, and everything functioning in its perfect role and purpose.
How pleased He must have been to see the beauty His painstaking efforts had fashioned.
And then He rested, not because He was tired, but because creation was complete.
Creation – a miracle.
Yes, it was very good.
Of course, we all know the familiar and heartbreaking story about how sin entered the world.
Have you ever shattered a beloved keepsake? Or crashed a car? Or ruined a project? Or lost a loved one?
Again, only a glimpse of what His heart must have felt.
But, of course, God is God – and so He had a plan, even for this.
And what did He do?
He created His very own vignette, the very first Nativity scene!
He directed the heavens to shine a bright light.
He fashioned the stable, and placed the manger in its proper place.
(I think He made sure that animals were there – so that just as they had witnessed the creation of man, now they would see the birth of the Son of Man!)
He made sure all the inns were booked up.
He orchestrated events so that Mary and Joseph arrived, at just the right time.
He sent an angel to speak to the shepherds.
And when the surroundings were all complete, when the whole world was angled *just so,* when everything and everyone was in its proper place, He did something incredible.
He brought forth the Savior.
The Life that would bring life in all its myriad ways of expression.
Abundant. Full of hope. Born again. Eternal.
Yes, it was very good.
It was perfect.
I have so enjoyed decorating, and I derive great pleasure in the final result. I am delighted by the festive surroundings, and take great satisfaction in having everything *just so.*
And I am grateful for the insight it has given me into the heart of the Creator.
A chance to know, at least in part, His satisfaction, pleasure, delight, and joy – His enjoyment of His creation.
But more than anything, I am grateful for the scene that He created in a little town called Bethlehem.
Yes, I love His nativity best of all.
O Christmas Tree.
Long lay the world
in sin and error
is the cure
for our darkness.
The LORD God
sent His Son,
to the world.
it was very good.
(This is long, but I especially like this accounting of Creation as it's expanded in the Amplified Version of the Bible. Might I encourage you to reread it again, with a sense of wonder at the miraculous beauty of it all…)
In the beginning God…created [by forming from nothing] the heavens and the earth.
And God said, 'Let there be light'; and there was light. God saw that the light was good (pleasing, useful) and He affirmed and sustained it; and God separated the light [distinguishing it] from the darkness.
And God called the light day, and the darkness He called night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day.
And God said, 'Let there be an expanse [of the sky]'…And God made the expanse [of sky]…and it was so [just as He commanded].
God called the expanse [of sky] heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, a second day.
Then God said, 'Let the waters below the heavens be gathered into one place [of standing, pooling together], and let the dry land appear'; and it was so.
God called the dry land earth, and the gathering of the waters He called seas; and God saw that this was good (pleasing, useful) and He affirmed and sustained it.
So God said, 'Let the earth sprout [tender] vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit'…and it was so.
The earth sprouted and abundantly produced vegetation, plants yielding seed…and trees bearing fruit with seed in them…and God saw that it was good and He affirmed and sustained it.
And there was evening and there was morning, a third day.
Then God said, 'Let there be light-bearers (sun, moon, stars) in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night, and let them be useful for signs (tokens) [of God's provident care], and for marking seasons, days, and years; and let them be useful as lights in the expanse of the heavens to provide light on the earth'; and it was so, [just as He commanded].
God made the two great lights – the greater light (the sun) to rule the day, and the lesser light (the moon) to rule the night; He made the [galaxies of] stars also [that is, all the amazing wonders in the heavens]. God placed them in the expanse of the heavens to provide light upon the earth, to rule over the day and the night, and to separate the light from the darkness; and God saw that it was good and He affirmed and sustained it.
And there was evening and there was morning, a fourth day.
Then God said, 'Let the waters swarm and abundantly produce living creatures, and let birds soar above the earth in the open expanse of the heavens.' God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves…every winged bird…and God saw that it was good and He affirmed and sustained it.
And God blessed them, saying, 'Be fruitful, multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.'
And there was evening and there was morning, a fifth day.
Then God said, 'Let the earth bring forth living creatures…livestock, crawling things, and wild animals of the earth'…and it was so [because He had spoken them into creation]. So God made the wild animals of the earth…and the cattle…and everything that creeps and crawls on the earth…and God saw that it was good (pleasing, useful) and He affirmed and sustained it.
Then God said, 'Let Us (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) make man in Our image, according to Our likeness [not physical, but a spiritual personality and moral likeness]; and let them have complete authority over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, the cattle, and over the entire earth, and over everything that creeps and crawls on the earth.'
So God created man in His own image, in the image and likeness of God He created him; male and female He created them. And God blessed them [granting them certain authority] and said to them, 'Be fruitful, multiply, and fill the earth, and subjugate it [putting it under your power]; and rule over (dominate) the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and every living thing that moves upon the earth…'
And it was so [because He commanded it].
God saw everything that He had made, and behold, it was very good and He validated it completely."
(From Genesis 1, Amplified Version)
(And then, of course, read these verses, with a sense of wonder at the miraculous beauty of it all…)
"For this day in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord (the Messiah)." (Luke 2:11, AMP)
"For God so [greatly] loved and dearly prized the world, that He [even] gave His [One and] only begotten Son, so that whoever believes and trusts in Him [as Savior] shall not perish, but have eternal life." (John 3:16, AMP)
"[Jesus] said, 'It is finished!' And He bowed His head and [voluntarily] gave up His spirit." (John 19:30, AMP)
"And He who sits on the throne said, 'Behold, I am making all things new…It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the one who thirsts I will give [water] from the fountain of the water of life without cost. He who overcomes [the world by adhering faithfully to Christ Jesus as Lord and Savior] will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son.'" (Revelation 21:5-8, AMP)
Have you stopped and pondered the wonder and beauty of God's creation, and the miracle of His nativity scene?!
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