“My people will live in peaceful dwelling places,
in secure homes, in undisturbed places of rest.” (Isaiah 32:18 NIV)
My husband, Mark, hauled in the mummy-wrapped tree from the garage. He propped it upright. Dust flew as he began to peel away the cellophane with his usual exuberant self-confidence. I watched with trepidation. I felt the familiar festivity stress begin to surface. The “holiday hassles” seem to begin when the Christmas tree goes up. However, as the clear protective wrap dropped from the branches, I saw the exact same Christmas tree from the year before. A quiet peace oozed into my spirit as I felt my dread of the evening’s work disappear as the adorable gingerbread tree emerged.
It began at a charity Christmas tree auction last year. We bid on a uniquely decorated artificial tree. Cookie cutters, dough-like men with painted clothes, and brightly embroidered felt ornaments hung on its boughs. Every piece promoted a gingerbread theme. Because of the tree’s popularity, we needed to keep bidding higher. But finally, we won the bid and took our treasured tree home.
However, after the holidays a dilemma arose. How would we store the tree? I knew if we removed the decorations, we would never be able to recreate the perfection of the original. Mark decided to wrap the gingerbread-adorned decoration in plastic wrap and store it the garage. I thought he was cuckoo. We live in the desert where the temperature can rise to over 115 degrees in the summer. I pictured rodents snacking on the flour and salt mixture of the gingerbread men. I envisioned creepy bugs moving into the newly-planned insect community. I argued against the scheme—to no avail.
Although I had predicted dire results for the tree, it now stood in its perfect gingerbread attire. It dawned on me that we had “put up” our tree without any fuss. Only a bit of dust needed to be wiped away. We didn’t experience any tangled lights, burned out bulbs, or snarled metal ornament hooks. Instead of hours of exertion, we popped a bowl of buttery popcorn and watched our favorite Christmas movie.
I realized that I tend to make my own Christmas stress. I could have insisted on storing the tree in a hundred boxes and then taking hours to figure out how to reassemble it. But because of my husband’s ingenuity, we gazed at our prized tree without expending a lot of time or energy.
So from now on, if there are places to cut corners in the hustle-bustle of Christmas, I intend to do it. The key is finding out creative ways to keep Christmas simple, yet meaningful. I will keep certain traditions that I truly enjoy-- making fudge and Christmas cookies. But because I haven’t been able to bake a decent pie crust in twenty years, I am going to buy the pumpkin pies. Instead of wrapping presents, my gifts will go into those blessed gift bags. And I think, while I am out purchasing those bags, I am going to buy another industrial size roll of cellophane. I just might be able to plastic wrap the tree, the wreath and who knows what else to avoid holiday hassles for next year.
Dear Lord, remind me this month not to let holiday hassles steal my peace and joy. Help me find ways to save time and energy, so I can rest in the true meaning of Christmas, which is You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
By Susanne Scheppmann Proverbs 31 Ministries http://www.proverbs31.org/
Oh boy! Did you catch it: "I tend to make my own Christmas stress." Ouch! And how many of us can make that same statement? Now be honest :) For me, it's remembering the humble state of the first Christmas that helps me to let go of the excess that causes stress. What helps you keep the right focus?