The tradition of setting up Christmas decorations isn’t a mere chore. It’s more than making things pretty. Manger scenes and such can remind us of our Savior Jesus Christ, but that’s not the focus of this post.
For me, decorating brings memories of loved ones some of whom have moved on from this life. Other items bring warm memories of times past. I’ll mention just a few in this post:
This angel, for example—I was helping clear out the apartment of an angel on earth who had moved into eternity. I met her when I first moved here and was new at church. She brought me under her wing and took me to women's activities outside Sunday meetings, encouraged me and my husband to attend adult activities and sat by me in the women’s meeting. After I was settled, she moved on to the next new person and then the next, and the next. I could go on about her service to others, but this post isn’t about her. When I was helping the family clear out, I admired this Christmas angel, and her older sister told me I could have it. I balked at first because it looked expensive, but she explained her siblings all wanted it, and that it would save hard feelings if she gave it to me.
Another special memory comes when I take out this manger scene, my older children painted it when they were little. Although not perfect, it’s a treasure. I planned on expanding it yearly, and that worked the second year, but the store where I purchased the pieces, went out of business by the third year, and I never found pieces the same size. But that’s okay, it’s a snapshot of that time in our lives.
On the other hand, sometimes we need to let go of small treasures. Two years ago, I let go of the decorations our children made in elementary school. They were falling apart. My children had been trying to convince me to do that for a few years, and they were right. It was time to move on. The decorations had fulfilled their purpose, and no longer added to the beauty Christmas tree. I didn’t even remember who made which ones, anyway.
We’re letting go of another item this year—the string of blue outdoor lights. They are part of our Christmas tradition; however, they’re so old my older brothers hung them on a tree in front of my childhood home. Any electrician or fire fighter would have a fit if they saw them. Did I mention my youngest child is in her 30s?
Setting up Christmas decorations can bring out poignant memories of the past. It’s more than fun work and making things pretty. It’s a time to reflect on what’s important in life. What we need to cherish, and what we need to let go of.