I have always been anti Christmas before Thanksgiving. For as many years as I can remember, I’ve stood behind no decorating before Thanksgiving either! Let me enjoy my Turkeys on the platter, and seated around the table, before we face the barrage of twinkle lights, and wrapping paper. Over the years, I’ve had instances of being pulled…kicking and screaming, into Thanksgiving and Christmas being celebrated on the same day. That happened for the first 10 years of my marriage. We would drive from Mississippi to Illinois to celebrate Thanksgiving with my parents. Since we were there, Mom would put up the tree, and wrap the presents. Then my relatives would head over, and we would eat turkey and open presents.
As our son got older, budgets tightened, my Grandmother passed away, and my health began to fail, our Thanksgiving/Christmas celebrations changed. My little family stayed in Mississippi. We celebrated Thanksgiving with the trimmings most years. Some years, when things were crazy, or someone was sick, pizza might be on the menu. The food really had no bearing on the day for us, it was all about being together.
Over time, I started to get downright angry about the way that retailers were moving in on Thanksgiving. It bothered me to have Christmas commercials, and carols in the stores before we ever had a chance to give special thanks for the year. The more before Thanksgiving Christmas cheer was thrown at me, the more adamant I became that we would not decorate prior to Thanksgiving. No music before that bird…not in this girl’s house. Then something changed…sort of.
Last year I was preparing for a craft fair that would be held the weekend prior to Thanksgiving. That meant that our home was filled with all sorts of holiday goodies early. Ornaments, paintings, and sassy home decor all screamed Christmas in every nook and cranny of our home. It was allowable because it was headed out! No big deal…right?
The day after our craft fair, my teenage son insisted that we should just go ahead and decorate before Thanksgiving. He had a point. The tree, ornaments and holiday accoutrements were already pulled down from the attic. Besides, what teenage boy doesn’t want to avoid making several trips up and down the stairs to put things away? He knew they would just have to come back down a week later. His argument was valid. So, I indulged the kiddo and we decorated before Christmas. Nothing else changed. My attitude regarding society remained the same. Nothing else changed…except for that tiny place deep in my soul that knew I was making a time that could be joyous turn to misery because I was frustrated with society. Nothing else changed.
This year was the year that I began Bible journaling, and blogging. This year was one where I had grown incredibly close to God. My family had faced major decisions, we had been turned upside down with my Dad’s illness, and we had all learned to have greater faith in God. My health took a toll, and I began taking horribly toxic medications to manage the symptoms. My son got his drivers permit, we had a dog pass away, we added a third cat to the family…this year something changed. I focused more on God and less on the world. I focused more on the beauty of His love letter to me, and less on everything outside of me. I focused on my family that God had so graciously provided. This year, life changed…a lot.
I began preparing my heart for Christmas early this year. I had a blog to write, a Bible study to lead, and fellowships to plan. Yet, I didn’t become wrapped up in anything more than my desire to be closer to God by serving him. Spending the additional time I did in prayer during the challenges of moving Dad to the nursing home changed my heart. Spending the extra time in God’s word during blogging, journaling, and preparing the Bible study changed my heart. Spending more time with God changed my heart.
Today, my son begged me to please put the tree up early. For the first time, Ebenezer Scrooge was not channel through this momma. Nope! We were going to put up that tree. My kiddo and my husband were stunned. They ribbed my about it being before Thanksgiving. So what changed? I did! I began to live Luke 12:34, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” My treasure is stored up in heaven, and my heart is there. My treasure is the miracle of my husband and my son that God provided, and my heart is there. My heart became overwhelmed as my son, who will graduate from high school next year, asked me to help him decorate. He wanted to spend time together. He desired to continue traditions we had created over the years, and to make new memories together. Right at that moment, I realized that all of this anger I had about “people” infringing on my Thanksgiving had hardened my heart. If I would let it, I would miss these sweet times. How many had I already missed?
Today, my baby boy asked to put up the tree…together. We did! Greater than than act was the conversation we had. He told me how I had taught him to make the nativity the center of our home. He told me how he learned that Christmas was about Jesus, and not about stuff. Then he told me he will always want to do those very things in his own home when he has a family. It was today that I learned what my Christmas gift would be this year. This year…I had learned to lean on God more than ever before. He gifted me with the ability to see where my treasure lies, and where my heart should be also. Thank you God for teaching me about true treasures, and how to hid them in my heart.