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Sharing Christ Through the Arts

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Putting Away Christmas
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Putting Away Christmas

In many households, as well as mine, somewhere near the first of the year the inevitable putting away of Christmas occurs. The holidays are over and all the decorations must go back in their boxes.

I carefully pack the heirloom glass balls, little winter scenes, stockings, garlands, plastic icicles and wreath. Then I face off with the lights. They either enter the bin of Tangle-by- Yourself or they get meticulously wrapped around card board tubes so as not to form spider webs of connection during the long hot summer in the garage. I turn off the CD player and reluctantly put all the Christmas music in their box. By now the missing charm and glow of lights, decorations and holiday tunes leaves me feeling melancholy. The house seems lonely, empty, and quiet and my soul feels the loss.

Yet there remains the last corner, attributing Christmas ~ the Nativity Scene. It is usually the first to be set up for the holidays and the last to be boxed up for storage.

During the past several years, Christmas has wrestled with my heart. Images of opulent department stores or overstocked inexpensive retail warehouses contrast vividly with scenes of fleeing refugees and suffering humanity around the globe. This globe is my address. As a citizen of Planet Earth, these desperate men, women and children are my neighbors. How can I carry on the senseless tradition of buying into the fallacy that more stuff brings more happiness? How can I support market places whose shelves are stuffed with goods produced by the slave labor of men, women and children? I simply cannot!

In its place, I have chosen to get closer to the original Christmas story. This story that reveals the unthinkable . . . that invites us all for a few moments each year to be a bit more generous . . . to contemplate what peace on Earth might really look like . . . and express our love for one another. The Jesus Christmas story has become my delight as I look deeply into the hearts of those who play supporting rolls. I find myself falling in love with God all over again as it reveals His heart of passion for me, for you, for the world.

Imagine how an inconceivable gift from Heaven conceived himself. Then watch as he sucks in his first infant breath, filling his lungs with the very atmosphere that He once spoke into existence.

I am in awe at men of lowest Jewish rank witnessing a concert from supreme beings of Heavenly rank. Those shepherds may have been the only ones who could not be offended that the Creator and King of the Universe was a new baby sleeping in an animal feed trough.

And so, as I put away the Nativity scene, I pause, in sacred reverence for this focal point of Christmas. I don’t want to put away Christmas. I don’t want it to sit in bins in the garage for the next 11 months. I’m talking no longer about decorations. I am talking about my heart’s sensitivity to being touched by the magnificence of the mystery of the incarnation and how that will transform my life, my actions and my thoughts.

I want to keep Christmas here, present with me in all the days of the New Year to come. While the little wooden and ceramic nativity set is packed away, this year I choose to keep the reality of Heaven’s love set up in the stable of my mind so that everyday can be Christmas ~ the angel song is becoming mine to sing of peace and good will for all people.

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About Karen Nicola

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