Why I Broke My Number One Holiday Rule
For years I was staunchly against decorating for Christmas before the first Sunday of December, if I decorated then. In our house we follow a ritual of observing the season of Advent before we celebrate Christmas. And since Advent is about waiting and emptying and quieting ourselves so that we can receive the Christ child, I often just go with the bleakness of the coming-on-winter landscape as my backdrop for Advent. The empty, frost-covered fields and newly barren trees around our house usually seem decoration enough for a time of waiting and anticipation. But this year was different. This year when my daughter asked if we could start decorating for Christmas at the start of Thanksgiving break, I said, “Go for it!” She was a little taken aback at first, but then immediately went on Pinterest to find ideas for decoration. Outdoor decoration at that. Decorations that involve lots of colorful lights. Normally I would have stopped her in her tracks at putting colorful lights inside and outside and everywhere in between before Thanksgiving had even come, but this year I said, “The more lights the better.” Why the sudden change of heart? Because this year was hard. This year was full of earthquakes and hurricanes and wildfires. This year way too many people died in shootings. This year every time I looked at the news there were stories of darkness. This year I had waited long enough in the vast darkness of our world. This year I craved light. So this year out came the Christmas candles and as they came out I reminded myself,
This year when the tree went up I reminded myself that in a forest laid low by devastation that
The Light Shines in the Darkness and the Darkness did not overcome it.-John 1:5
And when my husband and children covered the bushes and door frame with colorful lights I reminded myself that
A Shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow from his roots. The Spirit of the LORD shall rest on Him.
What started out as mere decorations became acts of subversion. Every strand of light strung became a protest of hope in a world of darkness. Because though darkness seemed to have its way with us this year, I know in my heart
The people who walked in darkness have seen a Great Light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness – on them the Light has shined.