Each year, I debate the merits of pulling out all of the Christmas decorations. Some years, I’m feeling so festive that I consider buying half of Hobby Lobby, while other years, I groan over the idea of decking the halls with more items than absolutely necessary. With little children filling the house, the added clutter is sometimes stressful. But who can resist string lights, pinecones, and adorable felt garlands? I can’t.
As we consider all of the demands on our time during the Christmas season, it’s important for us to count the cost of decorating. When your two-year-old removes every ornament from the bottom third of the tree, your one-year-old is chewing on baby Jesus, and you’re sweeping up pine needles multiple times a week, you need a reminder of your reasoning! This isn’t a case to validate every ceramic mold of a snowman, nor a mandate for nativity scenes on the mantle, but simply a reflection on the point of these material things.
Why should we decorate for Christmas, anyway? And what can our decorations communicate about our thoughts and our values during the Advent season?
As we decorate for Christmas, we can image God
God is the first and greatest decorator. Instead of leaving the earth largely blank and uniform, he filled it with countless species of colorful flowers, trees, plants, and animals. He paints the sky, morning and evening, with streaks of color that upstage even the world’s greatest artists. Every detail of each region of the world is coordinated, orderly, and designed in a way that brings him glory. His intention being, that even those who haven’t heard the message of the gospel would look at creation and know, there is a God and he is good (Rom. 1:20). While I know God hasn’t used any glitter or metallic ribbon from Hobby Lobby, he places sparkles in geodes and metal bands of ore in rocks. As we deck the halls with creativity, beauty, thoughtfulness, and order, we are a small reflection of our infinitely creative God.
As we decorate for Christmas, we can build anticipation for Christ
Beyond just imaging God, decorating for Christmas can help old and young alike get excited about the coming of Christ. Even the most stoic adults smile when it’s time to hop in the car for the annual trip to the Christmas tree farm, or bring the box of ornaments up from the basement. Amidst lit candles and festive hymns, we remember together and celebrate the joyful foretaste of heaven. This little bit of anticipation, as we prepare the rooms in our homes, magnifies the way our hearts should prepare Jesus room as we wait in excitement for his return.
As we decorate for Christmas, we can find opportunities to talk about gospel-truths
We don’t often think about it, but many traditional Christmas decorations are symbolic of biblical truth. The star on the top of the tree is a reminder of the star that led the wise men to worship Jesus. Candy canes remind children of both the purity and sacrifice of Christ, in the shape of our good shepherd’s hook. Even bows are said to remind us of fellowship and being tied together in the unity of Christ. Of course, no one wants to get weird (I mean, it’s totally fine to have a pinecone garland with no deep meaning), but why can’t decorations be an excuse to talk to our families about the gospel? When the candles are lit, we can talk about the light of Christ. When the bells are hung, we can remember to make a joyful noise to the Lord. Setting up symbols in our homes as we celebrate Jesus, is a way to help our kids appreciate the beauty of the gospel.
As we decorate for Christmas, we can love others well
There is something about Christmas decor that can create nostalgic warm-fuzzies. Although we have complete freedom in Christ to not decorate, because it’s just “stuff” anyway, we are also free to make others feel the love and warmth of God as they enjoy a cultural norm meant to bring cheer and joy to our neighbors. In and of themselves, decorations have no meaning, but when they deck the halls of a home filled with the love of Christ, they can help weary guests and family members take heart.
So, if you’re getting ready to bring that tub of Christmas paraphernalia out of storage (or maybe you’re a person who decorates right after Halloween!), take a minute and consider how you can be more intentional with it this year. Not to add another burden, but to use what you’re already spending time on to point yourself and your whole family to Christ. Put up the printable with the verse from “O Holy Night” and sing it to your little ones. Talk about the wonderful gift of Christ’s coming when you set out the kid’s nativity set on the coffee table. Tell your children that Jesus is the light of this world when you wrap the tree with the tangled mess of string lights from three-years-ago. It’s all a chance to spread the good news!
And if you really want to get serious, consider reading this short liturgy I created to share with my family before decorating this year:
As we deck the halls of our homes with ornaments of Christmas, Jesus, we remember you.
We remember the joy and peace you provided at the cross.
We remember the light you brought into a dark, sinful world when you came to earth as a man.
We remember that you are coming back again.
Let us rejoice, not in things or in gifts or in traditions, but in the gift of salvation purchased by your blood.
Emily Jensen is the Content Director for Risen Motherhood, and the Co-Host of the weekly podcast. She’s a busy mom of five, a frequent downloader of audiobooks from the library, and a lover of Friday nights at home.