Norah: “Let’s sing that stack one, Mommy.”
Me: “I’m not sure I know that one.”
Norah: “Sure you do. ‘Stack the walls with all the holly, fa la la la la la la la la . . .'”
Harriet, joining in: “Oh, I LOVE that song, Norah.”
We’ve been stacking the walls in earnest this month and I am amazed, as I always am, at the difference it makes in our home. Our new house feels rather funny to us still, there are just so many things that are different and all the tile and concrete everywhere can make it feel rather . . . institutional. Then, the first Sunday in Advent, we decorated for Christmas.
I’ve written before about how, when we were first married, I wanted Christmas decorations. At that time, like most guys, Alex felt these were unnecessary items, perhaps particularly for our adventurous, move-around life. So I promised him I would always keep the Christmas decor to one box. He looked at the cardboard shoe box I was using to store them at that time and agreed. (O young husband, how much you had to learn!) Over our years together the box slowly grew . . . they make some pretty substantial tupperware boxes, my friends. I always said, when we Go, I’m bringing the Box.
Well, I’ve said a lot of things in my life. Things like what I would and would not do and where I would and would not go and other nonsense like that. In the end, traveling with just luggage meant very severe cuts as to what was Coming and what was Staying. The box stayed. But I snuck in a few favorites–like the Jesse tree ornaments, the tiny wooden manger scene that was once my mother’s, the play mobile nativity so we could do the Advent Readings this year. It’s really the first time for Hugh to remember it and it’s been meaningful for all of us.
I have always abhorred fake foliage. We will never, I said, never have a plastic tree. To our great delight we managed to buy a fake Christmas tree last month on a brief trip to a bigger city and it now warms up our family room daily. Whenever I find it unplugged I plug it back in.
When “the weather outside is frightful” for us these days it doesn’t refer to snow, here’s a glimpse from our porch in the afternoons lately:
When it looks like that outside I sit here:
Okay, that was complete fiction. I actually don’t sit at all and especially not here. When I sit it’s usually on the kitchen floor and when I get up I find raisins stuck to my jeans. But isn’t this pretty?
I’ve written some about my philosophy of Christmas decorations. The thing is, it shouldn’t be stressful. It shouldn’t be perfect or expensive or competitive. It’s not the litmus test of how nice a family we are or are not and it’s not the seasonal exam for excellence in motherhood.
It’s to help us create an occasion, to build a sense of anticipation, to highlight aspects of the glorious truths of the believer’s life for our distractable, work-a-day minds that forget to stop and ponder and savor all of the good things that are forever ours in Jesus.
For that reason I love things that are meaningful, like tin and wooden stars and the nativity matryoshka dolls from Oxford. Thank goodness that meaningful does not equal expensive. My favorite idea this year is made from 12 sheets of red paper on the kitchen wall.
Wishing you all joy as you stack your walls!