19 days to Christmas – do words like this make you happy or hurried?
Our American celebration of Christmas has become more spectacular and less – simultaneously. On a recent home tour, my friends and I took in the lovely touches that the women of the Quantico Garden Club had done to dress their homes for the holidays. As we oohed and aahed over the latest décor de resistance, I felt inspired, but also a little anxious.
I haven’t even gotten out a single string of lights and these houses were filled with smells and swags, collectables and sparkles lovingly placed throughout their homes.
‘I’m choosing joy,’ I told myself, when I got home and pulled down the attic ladder with little bits of insulation raining down on me.
Because truly Christmas isn’t made more lovely by the decorations we place around the house, if it isn’t done in love. And when I think back to the homes we visited, each one had different styles, but what stood out was the time the owners poured into their preparations.
Time – it’s a funny thing in December. You see the days are getting shorter and shorter up until the Winter Solstice on December 21. In the Northern Hemisphere this is the point of the earth’s annual rotation around the sun at which the axis of the earth’s orbit is pointed the farthest away from the sun (in the Southern Hemisphere it’s reversed).
And so there is an actual, explainable reason why we feel there is less time in a day. And add on to that our expanding list of things we want to accomplish to make the holidays special.
This is where the “less” spectacular comes in – when my ‘to do’ list is longer then the days/hours/minutes I have time to do them in. I really don’t want to fixate on the time it will take to do everything, I want to make the time count.
That is one thing that stands out to me about the birth of Christ – it was a simple, ordinary night. I like the way the carol depicts it: “On a cold winter’s night that was so deep.**"
The Latin word “solstice” means to stand still. A few days before and after the winter solstice, the change is so slight that the sun’s path seems to stay the same, or stand still.
There is something deep and reverent about this season.
More darkness and yet…
I need to remember as I pull out the old strings of lights and find that some are in disrepair– it’s not so unlike that first Christmas night. Yet this is the time that light makes its greatest impact.
The night that Jesus was born there was “no room at the inn.” And so the scriptures tell us that the birth of God’s son took place in the most common of ways. The heavens opened and sang to the ordinary shepherds about the Christ born in a barn. Those who were ‘watching’ witnessed this spectacular event.
It was not the rich or modern or creative or 'latest' surroundings that transformed the darkness, it was God’s love. A gift from heaven pierced the darkness. Love transformed that night in Bethlehem and love transforms our homes and hearts this season - God’s spectacular, eternal, glorious LOVE.
However we fill these next 19 days, I hope that you and I can find some time to set aside the busyness, ‘stand still’, and tune our hearts to the simple reason we celebrate the season.
** "The First Noel" (also written "The First Noël" and "The First Nowell") is a traditional classical English Christmas carol, most likely from the early modern period, although possibly earlier. Noel is an Early Modern English synonym of "Christmas"..~ Wikapedia