Seeking Christmas Spirit

Boxes and bags of Christmas decorations cover my table, creating a wall between where I have my quiet time and the rest of the house. My husband brought them in from the garage yesterday. He’s thoughtful like that.

What he didn’t do was put them up.

And he won’t.

That’s left to me because it’s something I enjoy.

Or so it used to be.

But as the traditions of Christmas fade into the tapestry of “used-to-be” with each passing year, my joy at arranging the nativity scenes on every surface of my home diminishes. No one will celebrate here this year, so what’s the point of decorating?

“Because you like looking at it.” His words are so simple, but I’m not sure they’re true.

That nativity set came from a Christmas bazaar I attended with my mother. About six or seven weeks before she departed from this world. We’d (teasingly) argued over who got the basket manger scene circled with glowing white lights since there was only one. She won that battle, as she’d won most of the conflicts in her life.

But not the battle against lymphoma. The disease beat her in the end.

Decorating used to be a group effort. My sons would rise from their beds the day after Thanksgiving and participate in hauling boxes, arranging winter scenes on every surface in the downstairs of our family home and then taking empty—or filled with items replaced by holiday cheer—boxes back into storage. The price? Homemade cinnamon rolls.

But the boys have been gone from home for nearly a decade now.

And the family home was sold seven years ago.

Nothing stays the same.

And I want new traditions for my empty nest holidays. Traditions that don’t remind me of what is missing but of what remains. My husband and I can set out our favorite nativity scenes—including the one in the basket that will forever remind me of Mom—and decorate the tree. Visit Pittock Mansion or drive around taking in the holiday lights.

What to do with all those boxes and bags of unused decorations? Let’s donate them so someone else can make them part of their Christmas tradition.

Maybe the process of cleaning out the old will tunnel through the abyss in my chest. And make a way for the Christmas spirit I used to feel to find its way back to my heart.

What gives you the Christmas spirit?

What do you think? Add to the discussion here.