when the clutter of Christmas overwhelms the heart

Christmas descends with a furor on social media. It is barely winter before the photos of perfectly decked Christmas trees show their sparkling faces, each tree photographed in its full glory and serene surroundings.

Intuitively, I know that the pictures don’t represent full reality, but still, I long for that tidy corner. For the mantels perfectly hung with matching stockings to be my mantel, for the bedecked trees in quiet corners to be my sparkling tree in a quiet, serene corner.

But in my home, the clutter confounds me. The noise and lives of 3 young boys mutes the sound and heart of Christmas carols. The furniture in the already-small living room gets pushed further together to accommodate the tree. The toy shelves are moved to the hallway, and the Christmas paraphernalia from school begins to dominate the walls. My eyes are dim and full of discontent, my chest constricts, my head pounds with the claustrophobia of my own house.

The chocolate stain on the white carpeted stair draws my eyes. I can’t look away; the stain is a microcosm of life with children, a constant reminder of the impossibility of a neat and tidy life.

As I stare, the stain clouding my vision clears and I am able to see my house for what it is. The chocolate stain loses its grip.

As I walk up the perpetually-stained stairs, I feel a surprising wave of affection for my house. It’s not big, it’s not fancy, and you will certainly never see it on tv. But this house is mine. My home.

This is the address where my children have always lived.

The holes in its walls tell stories of curious children.

The green painted room at the top of these worn stairs whispers of many nights spent rocking babies.

The holes in the couch cushions sing of the joy of boisterous play.

The kitchen walls display the products of highly creative children.

The crumbs on the floor crumble with the satisfaction of well-fed people.

The ornaments on the tree remind me of Christmases past.

With new eyes, I look past the clutter and stains of a life busily lived, seeing beyond to the world that endures. The love, joy, and peace brought by the Christ-child who came to save us from our soul-stain…the patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control He is growing in me as I parent my children…the faithfulness He demonstrated through the fulfillment of the ancient prophecies.

This is more than a house. It’s my home because Love lives here.


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