A Christmas you can’t decorate

Published 10:48 am Wednesday, December 10, 2014

I am no holiday overachiever. I appreciate those who hang their wreaths on the door just hours after what’s left of the Thanksgiving turkey is removed from the table, but I am not one of them. I am the type who puts off going to the attic for the boxes of lights and ornaments as long as possible, and I procrastinate this way mostly because of a) the work associated with putting up decorations and b) the thought of taking them back down.

It’s not that I don’t like Christmas overachievers. I’m grateful that there are people out there making the season bright, and I admire those who have, by the first week of December, inflated their snowmen, finished their shopping, loaded their perfectly symmetrical tree with collectible angels, and hosted a party. I love receiving their Christmas cards with photos taken in August of their children in holiday finery. Someday I want to be like them and at least order my cards a month early, when they’re 50 percent off.

My halls, however, just got decked. Only the thought of a group of youth coming to a house for a Christmas party without any visible sign of Christmas got me motivated.

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I used to say my hesitation was tied up in the fact that we cut our own cedars to trim every year. Do that too early, we learned, and you’ll have a brown Christmas. Now I think it has something to do with untangling strands of lights. Even Bing Crosby crooning in the background can’t make that task fun. And then there’s the issue of actually stringing them on the tree when you’re done.

One husband told me his wife sees proper light placement as crucial to putting the “merry” in their Christmas. He quotes her as saying, “This is the most important part of decorating the tree. If we don’t get the lights right, nothing will be right. Nothing.”

Talk about pressure.

Another friend offered a possible solution for all-the-way-around-the-tree light looping. “Cut out the back,” she proposed, but I was quick to tell her even that doesn’t help. We’ve had several trees that grew, shall we say, less-than-perfectly proportioned.

“They come with their own challenges,” I pointed out.

Anyway, magazine trees aren’t my reality. My reality is popsicle-stick kindergarten ornaments and a strand of lights experiencing unexplained blackouts, topped by a papier-mâché star that droops. Every year.

So while holiday overachievers pull out all the stops and others, like me, are just letting off the brakes, the season rolls on. Hopefully somewhere in the midst of the marathon we can slow down enough to savor Christmas for what it’s really about, even for just one day. After all, what’s the purpose of extending the season for weeks if we never really understand why we celebrate?

One of my favorite authors, Ann Voskamp, writes, “I don’t want a Christmas you can buy. I don’t want a Christmas you can make.” (I would add that I don’t want a Christmas you can cook, Pinterest or put on a gift card either.)

“What I want,” says Voskamp, “is a Christmas you can hold. A Christmas that holds me, remakes me, revives me. I want a Christmas that whispers, Jesus.”

Inspiring words for both holiday overachievers and underachievers alike. And whether that whispering starts before the first week of December or not until the big day itself, that’s the Christmas I want. Don’t you?

 Wesson resident Kim Henderson is a freelance writer who writes for The Daily Leader. Contact her at kimhenderson319@gmail.com.