Treasuring and pondering

I know I’m not I’m alone when it comes to Christmas decorating anxiety. It’s just one of many Christmas traditions that started small and then blew up bigger than a front-yard inflated Santa and reindeer.

It started with my mother’s homemade white tulle wreaths wrapped on a wire coat hanger. We helped her make a bunch of them to hang all over the house.  They were pretty.

When I got my first apartment, there was no way I could afford new decorations. We didn’t have miles and miles of inexpensive Christmas decorations like we do today. So my roommate and I made our own Christmas tree skirt, one of those colorful felt things with sequins.

Hundreds of sequins.

Thousands of sequins.


Every single reindeer, star, tree, ornament, and snowflake was cut out and hand-stitched. Not super challenging as far as sewing skills, but it took hours. We watched the Love Boat, Hill Street Blues, and certainly Dallas while we stitched.

When we finished the Christmas tree skirt, we proudly placed it under the little tree by our sliding glass door — the same door where earlier we discovered a peeping tom but that’s another story.

Now here’s where it gets embarrassing. This finished tree skirt belonged to my roommate. Since I wanted to have my own for future years — and since we had so much fun making this one —  I bought my own kit and started sewing in January. Fast forward thirty-plus years. The unfinished tree skirt sits in a box in the basement.

It was the perfect project to do with my children.

Didn’t happen.

It’s the perfect project to do if I’m blessed with grandchildren.

Yes. That’s my plan.

I’m getting side-tracked here, revealing one of many craft projects I’ve left unfinished. That, along with the peeping tom, is another story for another post.

The point here is that I really thought every single room needed to be decorated for Christmas. I had to “put” Christmas into our home. I know that wasn’t what my mother intended when we made those fluffy wreaths. But that’s what stuck with me, especially once I started having my own family and especially when aisles after aisles of local stores started to carry inexpensive decorations that didn’t have to be cut out, stitched, hot-glued, or pasted. Then there were the church Christmas bazaars that added the just-right homemade touch. The post-season 75% off sales topped it all off.

I accept full responsibility for this mild obsession.

Decorating was fun and became a tradition, especially with my daughter who loves to open up the boxes every year and re-live last year and the year before and the year before. I’m right there sharing memories. My sweet guy has alway believed that less is more, so he helps carry the heavy stuff, smiles as he listens to us reminisce, and then retreats to his woodworking shop.

Several years ago I was on my own to decorate. My daughter was overseas in graduate school. It was a lot of work to do it alone. So I did less. Thus began the process of simplifying.

Two trees, little Christmas village houses with the requisite puffy snow, an embarrassingly large collection of stuffed Christmas bears, nutcrackers of every shape and size, Christmas mugs, tea towels, hand towels. Yikes.

I used to boast that I wasn’t a collector.  (Not that collections are bad things. Not at all. I just didn’t like to collect things that had to be dusted.)

So now I’m simplifying.

Donating bears and mugs and candle-holders.

It helps that my house is smaller and there is nowhere to put all this stuff.

I’m only setting up the decorations that we absolutely love.

It’s not about “putting” Christmas in my home. It’s not even about “putting” Christ in Christmas. I can’t do any of the “putting.”

That’s grace.

That’s the Holy Spirit.

“But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.” Luke 2:19

Simplifying helps me do a little bit of what Mary did.

Treasure and ponder.

I’d love to hear your Christmas decorating history. How do you treasure and ponder? 


2 thoughts on “Treasuring and pondering

  1. Judy says:

    Putting up Christmas decorations this year was, as it has always been, full of memories. Like you, I have a couple (large!) boxes of decorations, many of which are too old, beat up, or tacky to put out any more. This year I noticed that the decorative Santa was missing his magnifying glass, the cloth St. Nicholas, made for me by my sister, is missing its hat, and the blocks that arrange into Merry Christmas are losing their letters. The blocks that I bought for my children to be able to play with still sit on my hearth, and now my grandchildren will play with them. I suppose some day I should update the decorations, but for now I like the memories better than nice new shiny appearance.

    • Beth Foreman says:

      I love that your grandchildren are playing with the blocks, Judy. Precious! And I agree, the old and tattered ones are so full of memories. The only “new” thing I do each year is a fresh wreath for the front porch.

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