Sunday, December 18, 2016
Sunday Afternoon Tea - Beauty With or Without an Audience
A few years ago, I wrote a blog post about the subject of decorating as a form of spiritual warfare. Upon which, even my long time blog friends said, "Huh?"! I then realized not every person has read books about spiritual warfare, especially having to do with "putting on the whole armor of God" and all.
My point in that post was our need to do the opposite of what we may feel like doing at the moment because of circumstances. I had gone through a season when I wondered why I should be spending time decorating the house and porch at Christmas. The kids were grown up and it was mostly just the two of us and I mean... you can't even see our house from the road.
It had been one of those years when this season of life weighed heavy on my heart. But I recalled what helped in the past when the enemy was whispering the familiar sonnet... that the best years were behind me. It was to fight the thoughts in my mind, to do the opposite of what was expected. In this case, I would decorate and celebrate and enjoy Christmas.
For you see, beauty is an attribute of the Lord and the opposite of the enemy. Oh, there was a time he was the most beautiful of them all... or at least one of the most beautiful... but the farther one gets away from the Source of all beauty, the more dark and shadowy and unpleasant one becomes.
I am convinced Heaven sparkles.
This lesson is one that repeats itself through the year and in every season but especially at Christmas. I'm not sure why but I always felt if I were to do anything like decorating or using pretty dishes, there should be an audience. You know, other people to enjoy it. It seemed silly to decorate the corner of a room that only I see every day.
But it was that Christmas when my eyes were opened, I believe from the Place that Sparkles. That kind of thinking cannot come from the Source of beauty. He created us not only to appreciate it but to desperately need beauty, whether we host Christmas parties or we are just sip a cup of coffee alone by the light of the tree.
Creating that atmosphere of beauty should not be a burden or a competition. The point is not to spend more and do more than those around us. Neither is it to decorate and bake and party and celebrate until we need a vacation from Christmas. As I have written, I knew it was time to send to charity a lot of Christmas "stuff"... no matter how much I liked them... because decorating was becoming a chore.
I don't do anything at Christmas that brings added burden to days already filled with fatigue. I cut way back on baking before this year. If I don't get my Christmas books read, I give myself freedom to read them later. January is still a good month and sometimes even better for reading. Now that I have scaled down and simplified decorating, it became easy and fun again and believe me... there is still plenty of hohoho in the house... and sparkle.
Christmas dinner is tried and true and very easy. I use pretty china because I want to and not because I have to use it. Polishing the silver and lighting the candles and making a special dessert are fun things I can still do, thank God! The house sparkles because I want it to sparkle but more than that... I need it to sparkle.
When I am making things pretty, I like to make them pretty to the glory of God. Like Grandmother raises greenhouse flowers in A City of Bells. For you see, we may not have people as an audience but those of us who have accepted Jesus as Savior have the Creator of all that is pretty as our audience. What better reason to decorate the room only we use or to choose the pretty Christmas teacup to drink from or to put on our favorite Christmas music?
Give yourself permission to appreciate beauty this Season as we celebrate the birth of our very dear Jesus. If you are alone, decorate. If you have tiny children around, decorate but just put everything up higher. Same if you have kittens. Make your favorite Christmas cookies even if only you will enjoy them this year. What better way to honor one who is no longer with you than to make their favorite Christmas recipe, too?
Better yet... make your favorite cookies and share them with your local police, sheriff's department, fire department, or any other people who serve you during the year. Share your home with someone you know will be alone this Christmas. If you don't want to cook and you can afford it, invite someone you care for to a restaurant meal.
For you see, it is not just decorating but anything that is doing the opposite of feeling grumpy, sad, alone, overworked, frustrated, etc. is doing a very Christmasy battle against the one who would make you feel really bad this Christmas. There is a lot to be thankful for even if it is another breath.
I was very tempted to just let Christmas go this year except watching some Hallmark movies and having the kids over for dinner. I still wake up every morning for just a moment looking for Victoria. She was my furry best pal. It is still hard to be completely cheerful this Christmas. But nothing has to be perfect to be good and what better way to conquer death than to really live.
Excuse me, I need a tissue... and another cup of coffee... and a slice of orange cranberry bread. I'll let myself be sad for awhile and then tie an apron around my waist and make something Christmasy in the kitchen. That could be an entirely new blog post. Spiritual warfare by baking?
Artist: John Sloan