Unusable Decorations

I usually love decorating for the Christmas season. But this year as I sorted my way through boxes of decorations - trying to decide which ones would fit in our tiny, new condominium and which ones would be left in the boxes, sadness and a deep longing to return to our large home in the country overwhelmed me.

I missed our huge Christmas tree and windows filled with Yuletide greenery and candles. I remembered the tiny, white lights spread out over a cascade of greenery atop our piano and the colorful outdoors lights that framed our house and deck. I yearned for that “Home for the Holidays” feeling and wanted to celebrate the way we always had in the past. But the mounting stacks of boxes filled with unusable decorations with no place to be displayed reminded me in no uncertain terms of my new reality.

Willingly tumbling into a downward spiral of negative emotions, I started imagining that everything good about the Christmas season would now be gone forever. I recalled the simple Christmas traditions of wrapping gifts, decorating the tree, sipping hot chocolate with tiny marshmallows, and exchanging gifts with family and friends. I pictured the precious smile on my grandson’s face as he plunged cookie cutters into the dough while making Christmas cookies with me in my old kitchen. I remembered the fun we had baking and decorating them and the simple pleasure of sharing a few cookies with him along the way.

My self-pity grew to resentment as my husband brought in box after box of unusable Christmas treasures and I continued to convince myself that I would never again experience another precious Christmas memory in this dreary little condo. How could Christmas be special here with little to no room for my seemingly endless treasure trove of decorations?

I needed to do something, anything to take my mind off the resentment I felt for not being able to use all of my Christmas decorations. Unbeknownst to me, in the midst of my selfish attitude, God was already at work – preparing to answer the unspoken prayer of my heart.

I walked out of our tiny, dreary condo and headed down the hall toward the elevator. As I entered the third floor lobby I noticed someone else walking toward the elevators. We struck up a conversation and I learned that she was in charge of the decorations for the building and was looking for someone to decorate the third floor. Before I knew it, I was the newly-appointed volunteer in charge of decorating the entire third floor of our building for Christmas.

While my newfound friend was overjoyed at finding such a willing volunteer, I was beginning to realize that God was once again at work in my life. After my new friend finished showing me where all of the seasonal decorations were stored I hurried back to our little condo with a heart full of joy, excitement, and a childlike anticipation of Christmas cheer. I now had a plan for those stacked boxes of unusable Christmas decorations.

I dove into the stack of boxes again and after a long session of sorting, arranging, re-sorting, and re-arranging, I was ready to decorate the third floor. An angel with golden wings now presides over the coffee table near the double doors. My special glass vase sits atop the grand piano in the lobby surrounded by a gorgeous display of holiday greenery laced with tiny, white lights. A beautiful Christmas swag accented with rich, red candles adorns the mantle over the fireplace and the windows are filled with greenery and flowers. A holiday garland bedazzled with a shimmering assortment of Christmas decorations offers a festive greeting to residents as they step off the elevator. The unusable decorations transformed the third floor lobby into a beautiful tribute to the Christmas season.

As I decorated this huge common area and the lobby began to sparkle and shine with the joy of the season, a miraculous change took place in my heart. My attitude began to sparkle and shine as my bitterness and resentment were replaced by a deep sense of joy and peace. The tidings of comfort and joy we sing about filled my heart.

I asked God to forgive me for my attitude of selfishness and resentment and thanked him for providing a way to share special Christmas treasures that mean so much to me with the other residents in the building. As I continued to fine tune the Christmas d├ęcor throughout the week, a number of people commented on how pretty everything looked and what a great job had been done on this arrangement or that display.

So in addition to being able to use all of my Christmas decorations, God also allowed me to share my joy with others. The sense of joy and appreciation I see in their smiles and hear in their comments is something I never would have experienced in the big, old house where we used to live – and for this I am grateful.

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