Decorating For Love
by Trish Berg
Sometimes we look for love in all the wrong places. We think we can create love in our lives, make our lives more beautiful by plastering on decorations.
From evergreens to pine roping, and little white lights strung on every banister and doorway, I spend a lot of time decorating our house for the holidays. Building memories is what I like to call it. Things my children will remember twenty years from now with fondness and joy.
When we had a toddler and a baby, I tried a little too hard to “decorate” one Christmas. It all began when I saw a Hallmark commercial: a dad, missing his now adult daughter, walked to the top of a hill where they had gone every Christmas Eve when she was young. By moonlight, he opened the Christmas card she sent him.
I wanted to build memories like that on the two-hundred-acre farm where we lived. On Christmas Eve we’d decorate an evergreen that no one would see but us—decorating a tree for God’s eyes only.
I bought strands of battery-operated white lights, tinsel, and ornaments, and spent hours stringing popcorn and cranberries so the animals could enjoy our gift to God. Now, in theory, this all sounded grand.
Then Christmas Eve arrived wrapped in a cold Ohio freeze. The wind chill zoomed below zero. My husband, Mike, gave me the look that said, “Are you sure about this?”
Yep. We’re making memories—even if they include frostbite.
Too cold to hike, we drove our old Jeep, Lazarus, up the hill, our sweet girls swaddled like apple dumplings. On a steep hill in the woods, we found a lonely evergreen, all skinny and crooked. Just perfect.
Mike climbed out, stood on the hood of the Jeep, and began to drape the lights and garland. The girls and I remained in the car.
I watched. Sydney cried. Hannah shivered.
With a dying whoosh, the Jeep heater gave out. More chills seeped in. My nose turned ice-cube cold. Sydney’s crying grew louder. On the hood, Mike looked like a cross between the abominable snowman and the Grinch.
With one final toss, he threw the remaining decorations toward the tree. He jumped into the Jeep, “I quit! Let’s go back inside before we freeze to death.”
Two babies crying, one parent frozen, one parent driving, we eased down the hill. I looked in the rearview mirror at our little evergreen with lumps and piles of lights here and there glowing in the night sky.
So much for perfection.
Back inside our home, I made hot cocoa. As we thawed, Mike and I looked at each other and laughed. And through that laughter we realized a very important life lesson: the true beauty of Christmas isn’t in decorated trees or traditions. Christmas beauty lives in a bare stable where a baby was born without any decorating from me.
Over the years we discovered wonderful ways to celebrate Christmas. The difference is that I now let the love of God decorate our holidays. I don’t rely on my efforts alone.
On that long ago Christmas Eve when we braved the Arctic blast to decorate our first outdoor tree, we spent too much time trying to create the perfect Christmas.
We forgot. God had already done that.
Taken from A Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts. Copyright © 2008 Published by Leafwood Publishers. Used by permission.