Sunday, December 19, 2010

Losing Focus

Today we were doing some final Christmas shopping at the store with the big red bulls eye. As we weaved our way up and down aisles crowded with people and toys, I found myself losing focus of the reason we were buying gifts.

I started playing the comparison game.

How much would so-and-so be spending? Will this present delight or disappoint? Does the scope and grandeur of my gift rise above the unspoken bar of expectations?

I was caught in an anxious guessing game of how others would analyze the price of the present as an interpretation of the value of the relationship.

This is wrong. I know it. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

Christmas is not about keeping up with the Jones's or finding the best holiday discounts. It's not even about buying the perfect present to satisfy someone's needs or wish-list of wants.

The perfect present has already been bought. God gave us his perfect son. Jesus bought us the gift of a restored relationship with God by paying the penalty of our sins through his death on the cross.
"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him will not perish but have eternal life." -John 3:16
CHRISTmas is about remembering that God loved us so much that he sent his his son to earth and Christ loved us so much that he lived a perfect life and then died, that we, too, might live.

So what about all this gift giving?

When I regained focus, I remembered that Christmas is an opportunity to share God's love with the family and friends he's blessed us with by giving out of the resources he's provided.

When I regained focus, I realized that I can honor God best by being responsible with my finances, buying only what we can afford, and by being joyous in my spirit, giving generously out of love not out of fear of being judged.

 I wish I never let my eyes drift from the One who matters most.

But I'm thankful that when I do, he's always there to meet my refocused gaze.

Does your vision ever get blurry this time of year? How do you stay focused on the true meaning of Christmas? 

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Reindeer and Snow Flakes and Beads, Oh My!

I spent the weekend finding new nooks and unconventional crannies to display my favorite Christmas ornaments. [Check out the previous post to read why.]

Here are a few more of my clever creations...

I filled this chunky glass vase with the strings of cranberry wooden beads that we usually drape around the tree. Then I topped it with simple bronze ball ornaments and finished with a plaid Christmas ribbon.

On this bathroom shelf I grouped a trio of reindeer ornaments instead of the classic red candle I usually use to fill the cubby.

And I love how this huge red snowflake pops against the crisp white cabinet.

I felt especially inspired when I adorned my kitchen cabinet handles with these pretty holly berry branches. (I really love how they look hugging the limbs of a Christmas pine ...but this is a fun way to enjoy their beauty sans tree.)

I placed cinnamon-spice-scented pine cones in this elegant glass hurricane instead of using a large wooden bowl like last year (since it's now housing my ornament collection).

And that Christmas gift bag? That's my fancy way of concealing the pile of mail that normally sits haphazardly on the counter.

Does it feel like Christmas at your house?

What's your favorite way to deck your halls?

No Pine. No Problem!

So we've decided to forgo my two favorite Christmas decorating traditions this year: the classic Christmas tree and the meaningful Nativity scene.

Why would I do such a thing?

His name is Noah.

He is one of the loves of my life. He is almost two. And he is WAY above the jingle bell curve of tactile curiosity!

The thought of putting up a Christmas tree conjures visions of ornament hooks up noses, twinkling lights between teeth, and beaded garland wrapped around his baby brother's neck. Likewise, I'm certain my beautiful Willow Tree manger animals would wind up in Noah's plastic Playschool barn; Joseph would surely become the newest Tonka truck driver; and who knows where I would find Mary and the Baby Jesus? [The only spaces I have for the Nativity scene are within Noah's ever-increasing grasp.]

Knowing my son, he would master self-control over the enticing new decor just before the New Year when we're ready to take it all down. So to save us a lot of headache and hassle we're choosing to just avoid the chaos this year.

With that said...I still LOVE decorating for Christmas! So after being inspired by one of my favorite homemaking blogs about finding creative ways to use holiday decor, I decided that my home would look and feel like Christmas this year. I could still enjoy the delight of pulling out all my favorite ornaments, I'd just find creative ways to use them in inventive out-of-toddler-reach ways.

Here's what I came up with...

This large wooden bowl is usually home to over sized potpourri. Now it displays a collection of rustic Christmas balls, bronze stars, and my favorite giant snowflake.

I hung mini jingle bell wreaths on either end of this cafe mug rack.

Then I propped these sweet angel ornaments and extra large jingle balls on the shelf above.

Love the crackle finish!

I spruced up two metal snowflake lanterns with wooden tree ornaments for a pop of color and texture. 

Have you been inspired to use traditional Christmas decorations in a nontraditional way?

Check back soon for more of my creative holiday twists!