Guest Writer- Cathy Wyne
Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you. 2 Corinthians 13:11
My father loved to create a village under the Christmas tree each year; however, he was relegated to the garage once the footprint of his town exceeded the living room carpet and encroached upon the wood foyer. You see, his village had become a burgeoning metropolis surrounded by an agricultural reserve. A train ran across a trestle bridge through the mountains in the distance, ducked in and out of a tunnel, and then followed a meandering course through the countryside until reaching the city. There were fields and farms, parks and ponds, Victorian row houses, humble cottages, and churches galore. Dozens of little people— all frozen in a single, joyous holiday moment—completed the masterful design. Every element of this display was hand-painted by my grandmother and my father always managed to find a special place for each one.
When his work of art was complete, he loved nothing more than sharing it with his grandchildren. I can still see him in his engineer cap with a big smile on his face as he set the train in motion.
However, the memory I treasure most is sitting in the garage with my father after the kids had gone to bed. We didn’t run the train. Instead, we enjoyed the perfect stillness, the twinkling lights, and the quiet joy of the season.
Finding peaceful moments during the holidays can often be a challenge. As a society, we tend to chock our calendars full of festivities hoping to make our Christmas celebrations as memorable as possible. Ultimately we find ourselves lost to the confusion and exhausted. Some of us may even feel like we’re celebrating Christmas with the Kranks, trying to pull it all together at the last minute despite our best efforts to be organized and efficient.
Determined to find more time for relationships and those elusive peace-filled moments, I made a bold decision this year. There was going to be Christmas cheer during Thanksgiving. Yes, I decorated early and the sky didn’t fall.
To all those naysayers who might think my actions a crime against Christmas or somehow diminished my capacity to focus on blessings during Thanksgiving, I say, “Oh contraire.” Decking the halls early left me more relaxed and feeling even more grateful than ever before. I was able to truly give thanks as the turkey was passed around the table rather than thinking about the dozens of Christmas boxes that would clog my stairwell the following day. This new strategy also gave me a full month to focus on family and friends, serving others, and reflecting on God’s perfect gift.
So in the future, I encourage you to break free of convention and experience Christmas in a whole new way. If you want to have more moments of quiet reflection, go ahead and set up the tree a little early, drape the banister with garland, give yourself permission to do whatever enables you to shine a brighter light on the birth of our Lord and Savior.
For what matters most is that we center our hearts and minds on the Lord’s tender mercy and his amazing gift of redemption through Jesus Christ. His love for us is the true reason for the season.
Blessings, from Cathy Wyne