…That is what it has felt like anyway; that we were packing away Christmas. We waited as long as we could but honestly the tree was becoming a fire hazard. It has been up since a day or two after Thanksgiving so I suppose it was time. Ten or eleven years ago when we lived in Chickamauga our Christmas tree was completely, 100%, bonafide dead a full week before Christmas day. On the 23rd I finally accepted the truth after I inadvertently sneezed on the tree and there were no needles left. Fortunately I found an abandoned tree lot and found a perfectly good tree resting in a ditch!
This year our tree held up much better, but nonetheless it was time to pack Christmas away. This past weekend Amy and I carted box after box back up into the attic, each filled with Christmas decorations that marked another Christmas in Augusta. This is always such a melancholy chore for me. Our house was festively marked with Christmas present and Christmas past. The ornaments we used included those we have acquired throughout our marriage including some cookie-dough ornaments we made as newlyweds. We had about a half-dozen ornaments from my grandmother’s tree that she used when my father was a baby. And each year we receive several special ornaments that are added and find their place among our collection of ornaments. Once the ornaments were placed back in their box, the tree was the last to go. There is such sadness in stripping a tree of its ornaments and lights. Standing by itself, its branches dropped and dry, the tree gave a bleak testimony that Christmas must be over.
Or is it?
I guess whether or not Christmas is over depends on one’s view of Christmas. If Christmas is an event then yes, it is over. But isn’t Christmas really a reminder? God has come to dwell with us and dwells with us still. One cannot simply pack Christmas away! God is here as we face another day and another year; God is here with our churches and wherever sisters and brothers gather in the name of the Child.
As we enter into this “new” year why not claim Jesus’ own words to his followers: “Let your light shine!” (Matthew 5:16a). We do not need a tree or ornaments or electric lights. We simply need each other, the community of faith, to move beyond our walls and into the community, region and world..
We will hear more about letting our light shine in the great year ahead of us. Pack Christmas away? We don’t have to. Not as long as the light of Christ shines in us and through us.
Grace be with you,