I was reminded this last week that we haven’t been in our new home very long. I think sometimes transition makes the days feel long, and that can make things feel different than the reality.
But the reality is that we’ve only been here a little over two months. We’re still finding our feet. We’re still finding a new normal. And that is okay.
And in the midst of that settling in and new-ness, Christmas has come. This blessed reminder of hope in the midst of darkness. God himself coming to earth to mend our brokenness. Jesus meeting us in our need.
Christmas in the midst of starting my third trimester. Christmas in the midst of the busy, fullness of sharing life with a toddler. Christmas in a new place, feeling a little empty and tired.
It is hard not to compare this Christmas to others. It is hard not to compare it to the picture in my head. Frankly, it is easy to look at social media, to glance at Pinterest, to look at the ads, to look to previous years of celebrating and think that this is what it needs to look like to be fun, to be festive; to be beautiful, to matter. But that is a lie.
The truth is that celebrating and enjoyment can find its way to our hearts in the simplest of things. Joy gets to be found when we are present and thankful, not when things look or feel a certain way. And I think that Jesus gives so much grace where we find ourselves now, not just where we were or hope to be.
But I don’t just want those to be words only; nice things that I’m saying with nothing to show. I’d like you to see what that looks like for me, practically; in this season of transition, this time of waiting, these different days.
I want to show you because it isn’t perfect. It isn’t the most glamorous or beautiful. But these are helping me be present and celebrating the gifts of today. They are happy and good reminders to my heart of how kind Jesus is to give us this messy, imperfect, beautiful season.
And I hope that they can spark your own imagination for how to celebrate and delight wherever you find yourself today. I hope this prompts your own ideas for being grateful and enjoy whatever season, no matter how desirable or messy it may be. I don’t think this means we don’t grieve the hard or ache for the pain though. This is an invitation to hope, to cling to the good and a practical reminder to invite Jesus into our now.
1. The paint chip garland.
I love how easy it is to customize this one is. It can be any color. It can say anything. And if you are having trouble with creativity, Pinterest or Etsy can provide you with all sorts of inspiration. This one feels fairly self-explanatory.
Pick up some free paint chips at your local Home Depot, Walmart, paint store, etc. Cut the paint chips to size. Sharpie the letters/words as desired. Punch two holes in the top of each and string them up! My daughter loves this one that sits above our dining room table and sings “Joy to the World” to us on a daily basis.
2. Greens in a can (or jar.)
Since we were given a fake tree for free, it feels hard to justify buying a tree. But I love the smell of evergreen that comes with a real tree. I want my home to smell like Christmas. Greens in a can is my solution. A few branches of pine in a can (I seriously took the labels off of cans of beans, corn, etc. after we ate what was inside) and wrapped a red ribbon around the middle to feel more festive. I also used some mason jars that we had. Some years I’ve had holly available to me, but not always. This feels like an easy way to put a little Christmas in every room if you want (which I do).
3. Framed Christmas song lyrics.
The hardest part of this one was deciding WHICH are my favorite Christmas song lyrics! The rest was as easy as digging out red paper we already had and Trader Joe’s bags and sharpies. I did look at others’ lettering online for style inspiration, but reminded myself that the goal is not perfection. The goal is festive and grateful; celebratory and present. My daughter did her own coloring next to me while I did mine on the back of paper bags and recycled paper. It had been a while since I’d done any sort of art project, and this fed my soul in some good ways. I put the finished product in frames that were already on our walls to be enjoyed for the next few weeks.
4. The pine cone basket.
This one is obviously easiest if you live in an area with an abundance of evergreen trees and can pick them up for free. Our new home actually HAD pine cones in the backyard waiting for us, which was an added bonus. This was a fun afternoon activity with my girl collecting them and bringing them inside. We placed our collected pine cones in a basket I already had and tied a ribbon on them. And in full disclosure, that particular ribbon is one from a flannel shirt from my closet.
5. Snowflake windows.
Last year my friend Rachel sent me an envelope of these beautiful paper snowflakes. Some ended up being part of the decor for a dear friend’s winter wedding, but the rest have found their way to my windows. While I would love to say I cut these, I’m so grateful for the grace of snowflakes cut by someone else on my windows. There’s all sorts of tutorials online if it has been a long time since you last cut a snowflake. And I love that this lets you enjoy a white Christmas no matter where you live.
If decorating this year has reminded my heart of anything, it is the truth that Jesus gives so much grace where we find ourselves now, not just where we were or hope to be.
Where I find myself is in a small-plate season, with not much energy.
Where I find myself is in a slower, simpler time, with space for rest.
Where I find myself is on the other side of a move, without the resources of someone who has been celebrating and decorating many more Christmases.
Where I find myself is in my own home, able to celebrate and decorate and enjoy the grace of now.
Where I find myself is far from family I hoped to be celebrating with this year.
Where I find myself is next to my husband and two-year-old girl, who love the simple and happy things of this season with me.
Where I find myself is with a full and grateful heart, as I celebrate simply.
I think Jesus cares deeply for these details of our lives. I think he wants to help us enjoy his gifts to us and to be brave.
Joy gets to be found when we are present and thankful, not when things look or feel a certain way. I pray that you invite Jesus into helping you be present wherever you find yourself today.