Keeping Christmas

No, this isn’t a Christmas post you missed during December, but actually a fresh thought for January.  I have to restrain my husband from taking down Christmas decorations until after January 1st.   No judgement of the early November decorators, but we hold off until Thanksgiving has come and gone to put up Christmas. Then I love to have the tree and lights and other reminders of the season still shining bright on New Year’s Eve.  I would probably leave them up longer, but life is full of compromises, so they come down the day after New Year’s usually.   Undecking the halls is accomplished with the same love and attention I gave to the original decking…Christmas music playing, tree lights glowing, and maybe even a leftover Christmas cookie in my hand. My mate is the master packer, coaxing the tree back into ‘not quite big enough’ storage box…like trying to get a hefty girl into a girdle.  Then there’s the careful packing of the memories in the form of the snowman cookie jar, the nativity scene we’ve had forever, and the pyramid we acquired when we lived in Germany.  It’s work, but it’s a labor of love.  Each little item reminds me of the joy of all the Christmases past, and the laughter and love of the most recent Christmas. 

Now to the item that will make you doubt my sanity.  As the Christmas tree lights are removed from the live tree on the front porch (allergy issues decree that’s where it lives) I clip a tiny branch to keep for the coming year.  It lives in a special drawer where I can pull is out and whiff that amazing piney Frazier fir smell any time I want.  And in the keeping and the sniffing of it, I am reminded of the reality that Christmas can be a year round celebration.   I won’t tell you about the time the tree went out before my clipping was acquired, and I went to the recycling lot and located our own tree to get that clipping. Yes, I did. And yes, I found it!

There is just something so wonderful and timeless and encouraging about the Christmas season that I choose to hang onto all the year round. “Pleased as Man, with men to dwell. Jesus, our Emmanuel.” Those words from Hark the Herald Angels Sing, can stay with us all year round. Beyond the lights and the gifts and the busyness of the season just passed is the reality that the Savior we celebrate can remain the center of our hearts and lives year round. “God and sinners reconciled.