Are you one of those people who keeps their Christmas décor up so long into the New Year that Valentine’s Day starts biting her nails hoping you won’t forget her? Although I take down my Christmas things early in January, a few holiday items always manage to slide under my radar. This past year I had one cute decorative gift from a friend that managed to survive unboxed for a full 12 months!
But I never forget to take down the tree. By January its once live branches are celebrating the New Year with pine green confetti, and the furniture is tired of being displaced.
Because most of us don’t have a perfect, empty, tree-sized space waiting around all year. I don’t tape off a spot on the floor and say, “This is off-limits till Christmas!” Imagine my husband’s irritation if, come January, he moved our chairs back into the ideal football viewing position, and I ran in like a maniac telling him to get his sweet patootie out of the Christmas tree zone.
No. When the tree exits, we begin to fill that empty space with other things. Sometimes we replace it with necessary things, like sofas and end tables. Other times it fills up with the clutter of toys and papers, forgotten laundry and library books.
The space is full again.
So every year when we pack up Thanksgiving and get ready to roll out Christmas what do we do?
We have to make room.
We have to make room for the garland and lights, the snowmen collection and stockings. We replace Harvest browns and burnt orange for December’s crimson, green and gold. And when it comes to that tree, we rearrange furniture, clear the mess that’s accumulated under the couch, and create an empty space. Once again.And it struck me that my living room isn’t the only thing that needs to be cleared this season.
Maybe like me, Advent crept up on you this year disguised as yet another task in your long list of holiday to-dos. I didn’t purchase any festive Advent devotionals over Black Friday, nor did I hang my usual once-a-day Advent envelopes that I sadly end up neglecting well before Christmas arrives.
But I’ve felt the clutter in my schedule and soul in a space that was actually designed for Joy, Peace and Hope.
Jesus is Emmanuel- God WITH us- and He longs to fill that space in our lives. But this season reminds me that He can’t fill out the space of my soul, beautiful and bright, if I’ve let other things gradually take His place. Just like I have to move the clutter and good things alike from my living room to make room for my tree, I need to rearrange my priorities, perspective, and soul space to truly embrace a God who always has more than enough room for me.
But like the glittery tree, the end result of a soul cleared is breathtakingly beautiful.
(Even if it’s gloriously mismatched and tacky like our tree!)
Only in that empty space will I find the presence of God that I’ve so missed in all the ways I’ve been seeking joy and peace elsewhere.
So this Advent season I might not follow the perfect daily reading schedule and I definitely don’t plan on fasting from chocolate or coffee. (There’s always next year…or the next.) But I want to be intentional about my schedule by weeding out a few places where I’m seeking temporary satisfaction over full joy or trying to find meaning in a holiday check list. And my prayer is that instead of treating God like a Holy to-do, I’ll actually make space to just enjoy Him this year.
And thankfully, unlike my Christmas tree, God isn’t seasonal and He’s not likely to shed pine needles any time soon. 😉 So maybe, like the stray lingering Christmas decoration, this season will help me create a little more God space to last the rest of the year.
What about you? If Advent is your thing, how do you plan to celebrate? What tips have you learned to keep your season and soul a little less cluttered? I hope you’ll share!