For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. 2 Corinthians 4:6 (NIV)
When she walked into our living room for the last stop on our annual family progressive dinner, my sister gasped and said, “What happened?” She was referring to the fact that this year, I only put up one small three foot tree and only three sets of my vast collection of manger scenes. While I changed the candles in the fireplace from pale green to red, my living room looks pretty bare. At least if you compare it to years past. Then, I put up THREE large Christmas trees, a half dozen medium sized ones and several miniature trees. All decorated with ornaments. I have a closet full of bins stuffed from floor to ceiling. I probably have over 1,000 Christmas ornaments. So, to say I downsized this year is putting it mildly. I blame it on the puppy’s arrival, but I was contemplating downsizing before we knew she was coming. At first, I thought it was because oldest son and adopted daughter could not come home. Why put up so much when only a few will be here to enjoy it? But, it goes deeper than that. For many, many years, I tried to manufacture Christmas. I didn’t have joy in my heart, but wanted to at least look like I did. All the trees, all the lights, all the ornaments, didn’t make me any happier, but it was easier to pretend. Don’t get me wrong, I do love Christmas with all its beauty and music, but as I have gotten older, I have learned you can’t make Christmas happen with stuff. The presents don’t make you happy, only broke. The trees don’t make you happy, only cluttered. The lights don’t make you happy unless you have the One true light shining in your heart already. Despite the fact that I have my momentary lapses into craziness when I take the puppy to see Santa, I am learning this year that downsizing not just in my decorating, but in my giving and the frenzy that goes with it makes for the peaceful, joy filled holiday that I tried to create all those years ago. I am finding great satisfaction in sharing my wealth with others in need. And I think that those I am giving to are finding it as well. A simple card with a message stating that instead of a gift, they are feeding a child in Guatemala for a month is being generally well received. There are still some on my list who expect a present, but I hope over this year to educate them about what is not only important to me, but should be important to them as well. In the meantime, I am contemplating how to utilize that vast store of Christmas decorations to raise more money for Guatemala. And I am enjoying my little tree much more than any other tree we have ever had. Not to mention that it will only take a little time to put it away come January.