In my household, a tradition that has occurred each year is that we put up decorations around the house and the Christmas tree together. First comes the task of collecting all the decorations from around the house and laying them out as a reminder of what we have and then, venturing up into the attic to get the tree. Next is the discussion of how to decorate the tree, where to place the lights, which Christmas carols to listen to while we work, and which decoration passed down from grandparents will be displayed this year. This is something that has been done each year and is something that always brings me immense joy. This is because it brings my family together and reminds me of the promise that God makes to bring his people together in eternity. (cf. 1 Peter 1:4, 2:9-10)
As December begins, the schedules in my household get busier, and it gets trickier to find a time that everyone can be together at the same time. In my family of six, there are two nurses who work shift work, three other adults with full-time jobs, and one high schooler with a never-ending schedule of sports practices and games. Add to that responsibilities and serving at our church, and the task of finding mutual time to come together to decorate proves to be exceedingly difficult with each year. However, it always happens. The tree and decorations always go up, and we always adjust schedules, cancel plans and work out a time to do it together. I believe we all make it happen for a few reasons.
Firstly, it gives us an opportunity to slow down from the busyness of the season and truly appreciate what it meant for Jesus to leave his Father and come to earth as a baby. We don’t put up our tree and decorate it because it looks pretty, or because it’s ‘just what you do at Christmas time’, it goes up in preparation for celebrating the birth of Jesus, the Christ, the Son of God. At Christmas, I celebrate the birth of Jesus because I am thankful for and celebrate Jesus, who came to earth as a human so that he could save humanity from sin (cf. Matthew 1:21). I celebrate Jesus who I now can call Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace (cf. Isaiah 9:6).
Another reason we make sure we come together is because it is a reminder of the community that I have with those in God’s family, and of the promise that God makes that they will inherit a ‘forever-home’ in Heaven, as we read in John 14: 2-3, “My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” As I talk with my parents and sisters while decorating, I am reminded of the community and joy that I share with other believers which I know I will also have in eternity. I was particularly reminded of this one year, when my parents gifted my siblings and I each an old key with a ribbon on it. Shocked, we all demanded to know if we were moving. Smiling they replied and said that they wanted us to always have a reminder of the eternal home that we have in Heaven, and of the key that we have to that home in Jesus, through him coming down to earth.
The tradition of coming together to put up a Christmas tree is one that will always be special to me. It is so important to stop and consider what we celebrate at Christmas, and why. I celebrate the gift of Jesus coming to earth to save me and calling me into a community of believers. I encourage you to think about why you celebrate Christmas and reflect on the joyful news of the birth of Jesus.