We decorated our Christmas tree last night for the first time as a family.
The girls are two and four. The husband is older, but not inclined to wear a Christmas sweater and hang glass balls on the tree. I understand that somewhere in America, there is a man who enjoys decorating at Christmastime. I am not married to him.
But there we were—a freshly purchased Christmas tree filling the house with a gorgeous scent, white lights strung and children expectantly waiting for Mommy to come home from work so we could begin.
Prior to this year, it was usually me doing the heavy holiday lifting. As decorating goes, I am definitely a few ribbon spools short of Martha Stewart, but I do have some personal style. It’s more West Elm meets Target, but it works.
As the work began, my older daughter dug up the broken ornaments that somehow still took up space in the holiday boxes. The little one ran around taking the same jingle bell on and off the same section of tree, two twin strings of snot trailing from her nose. My husband joined us and humored me by adding another string of lights to a dark spot near the bottom of the tree. Somewhere within the first five minutes, I gave up my past Christmas tree decorating scheme which was called “Elegant Silver.” I did this as bits of cardboard, feathers and red (red!) glass balls were shoved onto green branches.
Amid the chaos and laughter, all soundtracked to the “Christmas” station on Pandora, I was struck with a thundering thought: I didn’t know I wanted this.
When we married, J. and I were happy to declare we would be childfree. We meant every word and embarked on great vacations as often as possible. The kind of vacations where we climbed mountains in national parks and pitied the families we encountered. We didn’t in a million years want to trade places with the red-faced and sweaty parents as they prodded kids up and down trails, and then crammed them screaming into French fry-strewn minivans. That life was not for us, no thank you.
But after eight years of marriage, suddenly it was the life we wanted. And after the babies came, we discovered we were crazy for our kids. Had the world ever seen such amazing children? Like all new parents, we knew the answer to the question.
So, surrounded by the magic of Christmas and children trying to stab each other with ornament hooks, my heart breathed in, then out. I almost missed this. And my heart was flooded with gratitude for the One who knows me better than I know myself. It was he who tucked in the desire for children when I turned thirty. It was he who caused the dramatic shift in J’s heart when he “caught” our daughter as she rocketed from my womb. It was Jesus all along.
I claim no specialness or insightfulness, save what the Holy Spirit places in my heart. I know he caused that small moment of reckoning in the swirl of a Christmas decorating night. You see, daughter, I know what you need. Trust me and life is more abundant, more lovely.
Yes, Jesus, yes. It is. Amen and amen.
What about you? What has happened in your life that you almost missed?
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