A Jar of Christmas Past

I’ve always loved Christmas – and loathed the day after. Therefore, this past weekend was somewhat sad for me as it involved the removal of the Christmas tree from our living room. All of my life, I have had the pleasure of a real tree in the house – my mom always said that the true fresh balsam smell caused by a tree that dropped needles, required the task of watering, and possibly shortened the length of time it could be up made all of it worth it. And I couldn’t agree more.

But the fact that we live in an old 1920’s house which is still heated by hot water radiators means that we have extremely dry air in the winter. I know this is a common problem during these cold months for many, but in our house you can literally see sparks as you pull the sheets back when crawling into bed at night (how’s that for romance?). This means that not only does the tree dry out extremely fast, but it also creates quite the fire hazard in a relatively short amount of time.

After touching the tree last week and realizing that I could snap some of the branches in half and that the majority of them were hanging down quite a bit more than I had remembered them doing the day before, I knew it was time. So Sunday after church, I told the girlies to say “goodbye” to the tree before heading up for their nap and began the tasks of packing away the ornaments and winding up the strings of lights. Once the tree was taken to the curb, I was left with quite the pile of needles, making their way deeper into the carpeting. I was amazed to find that they still contained quite the strong fragrance! My dad happened to stop over during the process and, being quite the “tree lover” himself, he suggested I keep the needles in a box of some sort for a little while – that way I could open it and breathe in that spicy aroma whenever I wanted.

Perhaps it would ease the pain of losing the tree a bit, he had said.

So now the jar of needles sits on our dining room table and I can’t help but open it nearly every time I pass, just to get a whiff of that Christmas smell I’m missing.

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As I was packing away other Christmas-related items this weekend, I ran across some of my daughters’ books which I had specifically gotten out for this time of year – stories that told the story of the first Christmas in a simple way, making it easier for a 2-year old to understand. I was just about to pick up the books and pack them away with the rest of the decorations when I stopped. Why should I? The girls know the story of baby Jesus better than any other at this point in their lives – why stop telling about the true wonder and miracle of Christmas simply because the calendar says that December 25th has come and gone? Isn’t it true that we can’t even technically be certain of the actual day that Jesus was born anyway?

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So in some ways, yes, the end of the holidays has sadly come. Our poor tree now sits, void of any shiny ornaments or brightly-colored lights, at the curb. But as I considered whether or not I would keep those children’s books out during these coming months, I thought about more than just that decision. I realized that I also have a decision to make regarding whether or not I will keep the true joy of Christmas alive in my heart and keep telling my children about the miracle in Bethlehem until we (Lord-willing) will celebrate the next one.  So I’m trying to maintain a different perspective this year. Similar to my newly-acquired jar of balsam needles, the Bible contains all that I need to truly experience the Christmas-like feeling every day of the year.

Perhaps I need to just open that “jar” up a little more often.

After all, the true meaning of Christmas and the reason we celebrate at all was never intended to be packed into a box and brought out only in December -- it is the Savior of all, made flesh in Bethlehem. And this should be reason enough to celebrate each and every single day of the year.

Mel Signature