Gosh, I was excited for Saturday to arrive! I had been anticipating the arrival of Advent for weeks and weeks! I couldn’t wait to place our Advent wreath on the dining room table and light our first candle. I couldn’t wait to pick out a tree with my husband. We had set aside Saturday, Advent Eve, to do this. And it was going to be a great day preparing for Advent. Even pulling boxes and boxes of decorations out of basement storage and hauling them upstairs was going to be fun. We went to sleep Friday night with happy hearts…
We woke up Saturday morning with the grumbles…well, that’s not completely accurate…I (not we) woke up with the worse case of grumbles.
I knew what was waiting for me in the basement. Those boxes and boxes and boxes of Christmas stuff. You see, I’ve been collecting Christmas decorations to deck the walls and halls and bathrooms and children’s rooms and family room and kitchen and…there are a lot of boxes.
How many little Christmas trees with tiny lights does one family need? I counted 12. (It is a nice number…Jesus had 12 disciples. I happen to have 12 trees.)
And the grumbling and irritation increased with preparing for the glorious start of Advent.
There packed neatly on the basement shelves, was a large box of gold ornaments. Gold ornaments of all sizes, shapes and design. There was a box of red ornaments…and ditto what I said about the gold ornaments. And a box of blue and purple and silver and white. Plus beads and ribbon to drape gracefully around the tree. A variety of tree skirts, too. Unfortunately, I also have plastic holly bushes, plastic holly vine, twigs with fake sugar glued on to give a sparkle to those plastic holly bushes, fake poinsettia and I can’t overlook the gold angels…wire sculptured angels and some ceramic angels with their wings opened over the overstuffed snowmen, which were guarded by wooden toy soldiers. I have a few metal reindeer, too.
And the grumbles just grew worse as I became buried under the debris of Christmases past. I seriously needed to get my heart in gear about Advent!
To wrap up this story in a neat little package, we did rummage through all of the stuff collected from years past and picked out the ornaments to use this year.
The grumbles began to go away as the lights were placed on the tree and the magic of Christmas was there. Right there in the beauty of that eight foot tree with the lovely beautiful glass ornaments and sparkling glass ice cycles hanging gracefully from branches mingled with the sweet smell of a fresh Douglas Fir.
“What a beautiful tree! I just love the beginning of Advent!”, I said happily to my sweet husband. The grumbles had begun to disappear as I gazed at this creation. I was also quite proud of myself for deciding to unload, I mean “give away” all of that extra Christmas stuff, plus I decided to be content with just one tree. I told God that all of that stuff was going away and I would be content with just a little bit of stuff, such as those gorgeous beautiful glass ornaments hanging on one Christmas tree.
“Yes, now my heart is ready for Advent.” So I thought.
I was no longer mumbly grumbly. And after a long day of “preparing my heart” for Advent (all of the above)…I was exhausted. Evening had come, a warm fire was glowing and our family room illuminated only by the glow of the fire and our beautiful tree gleaming with hundreds of white lights reflecting off of shiny glass ornaments. My husband had fallen asleep on the couch and I was enjoying the peace of gazing at our Christmas tree and thinking how sweet it is to welcome the first day of Advent. Our tree is beautiful!
And then it happened…
CRASH! The tree fell over!
Don was jolted out of a peaceful sleep and bolted off the couch.
Yep, it was a mess with those beautiful glass things shattered on the floor, fragments of glass imbedded in the couch (the tree nearly fell on Don) broken glass and broken branches and lights hanging off and water saturating the carpet…
Don and I stood there looking at the mess and staring wide-eyed and speechless at each other. (sigh)
I spoke out loud to God and said, “I get it, God. I get it! It’s all yours! Advent is all about JESUS. This tree is not what it’s all about. Those beautiful glass ornaments do not reflect your glory.” And I began to laugh.
The messiness of Advent Eve brought my heart to a true place of worship and repentance. Advent is celebrating God keeping his promise to send a savior, Christ the Lord. God is a covenant keeper.
“Our God in heaven, thank you that you did not remain there. You could have justly condemned us for our guilt, our devotion to idols, our constant self-seeking, self-absorbed, self-aggrandizing lives. But you did not. You came.” ~Tim Keller (from 843 Acres, The Devotional Blog of The Park Forum: Advent: The Feet That Bring Good News.
By the way, a friend told me about some families that were unable to have a decorated Christmas tree…they do now!