Every December 26 I see it. And, I’m pretty sure you do, too.
Friends and neighbors put their Christmas trees out for recycling. How dare they, right? Don’t they know that the Christmas season lasts twelve full days? Don’t they know they should leave their trees up until at least Epiphany?
Oh gracious, y’all.
Let me just state this up front: the decor of your house does not dictate the state of your heart.
Should I say that a little louder for the people in the back?
I grew up Protestant in a whole host of churches. Every Christmas season, the decorations came out right after we cleaned up from Thanksgiving dinner and then promptly were put back up after we hit all the sales on December 26. Fast forward a decade or so, enter marriage, confirmation into the Catholic church and the addition of many babies and our timeline looked different. We still put up the decorations after Thanksgiving but were a wee bit slower in putting it away, trying our hardest to make it to Epiphany.
Then, those babies began to grow older. They started taking high school final exams and studying for the ACT. We found ourselves at basketball tournaments for more than one kid, enjoying band concerts and attending client and neighbor holiday parties. The schedule, even though we’ve worked very hard to be intentional, got a little crazier with six active children.
In order to fully embrace the beauty of Advent, we took advantage of the “down time” at Thanksgiving to do our Christmas preparations because it’s what that season of life dictated for our family. On the other end, we take advantage of the time during the holiday break to get the house in order so we can start the new year without scrambling.
And I make zero apologies for that.
“Living liturgically” can be a beautiful and enriching thing for a family when it adds to a blossoming faith life. Waiting a little longer to dive into Christmas, paring down during Lent, choosing feast days of saints to celebrate with treats and crafts – it’s all gorgeous and awesome and inspiring.
Here’s the newsflash, though. It looks different for every family. As a mom of six, I cannot look at a newly married couple and be all Judge Judy with my liturgical calendar in hand. That’s not Christ, y’all. It’s not. We don’t know what’s going on in someone else’s home. Maybe this is their first (or their tenth) Christmas without a child, a spouse or a dear friend. Maybe their marriage is on the brink of divorce. Perhaps they’re suffering from a debilitating illness. We don’t fully know the condition people’s hearts or the state of their home.
I can’t shame people on social media for not conforming to my timeline of celebration. Well, I can (and I have), but Jesus asks more of me.
Scripture tells us to know God, love God and serve God. There is no addendum on the end that says we must keep up our Christmas trees until Epiphany. Trust me, I’m a Protestant, I know my Bible verses (even the Catholic ones).
Don’t you see? The details of how we live the faith in our homes is dictated by our season of life. Someday, my house may be decorated for Christmas until early February. That’s a season I’m not in yet, so who knows?
Instead of shaming people into what we think they should be doing, how about we find our joy in what we’re doing? Let’s focus on the joy of this season. The promise that a newborn baby made to all peoples of the Earth. He didn’t come with a liturgical checklist. He came with a heart bursting with love.
Perhaps we should, too.