Yesterday, I put all the Christmas decorations away. We didn't put up a tree this year because our family wasn't coming home. We were celebrating at our daughter's home instead. I did put out a lot of decorations in the living room, dining room and kitchen, and yes, even the guest bathroom. I'm a sucker for Christmas, no doubt about it.
Normally, we undecorate on New Year's Day or the day after. But this week, we weren't entertaining anyone and I suddenly felt a real urge to put it all away. Ken left shortly before 1 p.m. to play golf since the temps were to hit mid-forties, so there I was, surrounded with Christmas and trying to quell the urge to remove all the cheerful decorations. I gave in and started moving things from our main floor to the lower level where we store those off-season items.
As I worked, I thought about the treasures I was packing away for one more year. The vast majority of them were given to me as gifts, and I remember the occasion every time I arrange the figurines and candles and ornaments. Not only the occasion--I remember the person who gave the gift to me. Sometimes, there's a story that comes to mind.
While I unwound the battery-operated string of lights on the mantel greenery, I thought about Ken chasing all over town looking for the lights just before Christmas last year. The stores were literally wiped out, so this year, he went early and bought the lights. When he had the mantel greenery and lights all set, he switched on the battery pack and we had a major surprise. The lights were blue! Not what we expected, but we decided it was kind of pretty, so blue lights we'll have for years to come, I'm sure.
Today, Christmas is nowhere to be seen in our house. At least, the decorations are gone, but the glow remains. I gave several close friends a Christmas anthology book last year that had two of my stories in it. Inside the cover, I wrote Keep Christmas in your heart all year long Months after the decorations are gone, we can reach into our hearts and find the spirit of Christmas, just as it was intended to be. The Christmas story of Jesus' birth is not one for a few weeks like the decorations. It's meant to stay with us every day of the year. It's not gone, just tucked safely away.