It Ain't Christmas Yet!
The Halloween candy is consumed and the jack-o-lanterns are tossed in the woods for the deer to devour. Costumes and spider webs are on sale at Walmart, shoved to the front of the store while they set up Christmas trees and load the shelves with glittered ornaments and wrapping paper. While some folks on Facebook are already sharing pictures of stockings hung by fireplaces and twinkle lights accenting their eaves, others are shouting out rebukes at jumping the holiday gun. It’s all in fun, and I laugh out loud at some of the threats issued (“For every tree up before Thanksgiving, a turkey eats an elf!). But as I sketch out the design for the Bethlehem backdrop for the church stage, I have to gear myself into thinking it’s December yet not forget about the turkey in the freezer that won’t be eaten for three more weeks.
I would have to admit that Christmas is my favorite holiday, and I, too, would be setting up my Christmas tree if getting our decorations down from the attic wasn’t an all-day affair. First, we have to empty the closet of all our hunting gear and pile it onto the bed. Then we remove the piece of ceiling drywall within said closet, get the ladder, snap a headlamp on Ron’s forehead as he climbs up into the dark abyss and starts the hand-off of all the packages, boxes and bags. Then I have to hurry up and decorate the house so we can put all the empties back up, put the ceiling back in and save what heat we have left, fold the ladder and hang all the hunting gear back in the closet so we can sleep in our bed. It’s at times like these that I am reminded of just how small our house really is.
My dad was always a decorator. Maybe not as early as November 1st, but I remember going out and cutting down a real pine tree, securing it in the tree stand and filling it with water, making sure to tie it to the wall so it didn’t fall over. He would set up a train under the tree complete with cotton ball snow and little plastic street lamps. The lamp post in front of the house was wrapped with a string of big, fat, colored bulbs and every window had a candle in it. When the house burned in the summer of my 13th year, he promised me the carpenters would be done rebuilding and we would be back in for Christmas. We moved back in on Christmas Eve and set up the tree, even though we didn’t have a stove yet, the sub floors were barely nailed in and the bedroom doors consisted of hanging blankets. It was the best Christmas ever.
Daddy passed away on Christmas Eve in 2011, and I believe God took him home on that very day because He knew how much Dad loved the season. It’s a bittersweet time for me, but through the tears of remembering I am always filled with the profound joy that Dad is in heaven with Jesus and I celebrate the true meaning of Christmas – the birth of the Messiah, the fulfillment of God’s promise and the hope of Heaven. And it’s never too early to celebrate that.