This year, dear readers, our tree is decorated with paper ornaments, candy canes, and multi-colored lights. It is a fairly simple tree, the decorations hung with sparkling pipe cleaners, fashioned carefully by tiny hands. While it may not grace the pages of “Better Homes and Gardens”, my little family thinks it’s just right.
Originally, I planned on going out and buying a horde of brand new, store bought ornaments. Our old ones were a little tired, a little boring…a little blah. Our Christmas spirit needed a little pepping up, and I figured the holiday section at Kmart was the best place to start looking. Despite my best efforts, this fail safe plan held nothing – no dice.
After a while, the perfect idea came to me: why not just grab some construction paper, some glitter glue, and some fancy pipe cleaners? Last year, my mom invited the kiddo and me over for some crafting fun, and we created a unique and heartfelt Christmas tree with the very same ingredients. Why not spread the homemade cheer right in my own abode? We headed directly to the dollar store, picked up our goods, and trundled off to make a merry little tree of our own.
That evening, my husband, the little one and I huddled over the delicate paper shapes, loaded them up with the gooey glue, and waited anxiously for them to dry. (I will admit, the ones the kiddo made took a few days to dry – she has a bit of a liberal hand when it comes to any kind of crafty, messy substance. We are just lucky the paper didn’t fall apart!) When the time had come, my little one happily decked out the tree, asking for more and more of the little shapes. It was an event like no other, one I will not soon forget.
The simplicity of happiness is something I often forget – especially around the holidays. Every year, I vow to remember the simple things in life, take pleasure in small treasures, and try harder to be at peace. Every year, I seem to forget.
We, deep in our heart of hearts, desire most to be happy. Probably more than anything. We strive for that contentedness, so hard that we get tunnel vision, and miss the small moments that are really important. Most of the time, it is my daughter who brings me back down to reality, and out of the constant struggle for ‘happiness’. In these small moments, in her inexplicable joy, I see a glimmer of an effortless bliss, the child-like wonder that I myself once knew. How quickly I forget…
I spent three dollars, folks, and it made her night – perhaps even the whole season.
We took some colored paper, cut out shapes, decorated them, and hung them on a $20 tree. To a fashionable designer, it might look bland and mismatched. To my three year old, it is the most amazing thing she’s ever seen. That, my friends, is what really matters – for her and all of us.
Christmas is not about flashy decorations, super-sized presents, or stretching your wallet thin. Christmas is about celebrating an unending, child-like joy that our lives are not forfeit. Grace, mercy, and peace rains from the Heavens, all because of the baby born of a virgin so many years ago. Christ walked the Earth, collecting us all into His love and forgiveness no matter our sins, bringing hope and light into the world. He didn’t ask for much, merely to take up the cross and walk with Him.
This season, this wonderful celebration of life and hope, doesn’t ask for a lot – maybe some colored paper, maybe a few strands of tinsel, and a dozen sugar cookies or so – but mostly, it asks that we refocus ourselves on the really important stuff: thankfulness, a spirit of giving, and the joy of family. Everything else is just a lot of needless stress.
Thank you, little one, for the reminder. It was sorely needed.
“And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.” – Luke 2: 9 – 11