Everything is coming down today. Technically, since we live in Peru, we should wait until this Thursday for the “Bajada de Reyes.” January 6 is the “Descent of the Kings,” also called The Epiphany or Three Kings’ Day. According to church history, this is the day that Melchor, Gaspar, and Baltazar met the baby Jesus, marking the first time that Jesus as the Christ was revealed to Gentiles.
I can’t wait until Epiphany to put our kings away. I’m tired of the big mess in our guest room caused by extra furniture we shoved in there to make space for the Christmas tree.
And while I love the peacefulness of the sparkling lights and favorite ornaments glittering on our tree at night, I’m ready to put our living room back in order, which will include quite a bit of rearranging, since Ade’s Christmas gift to himself this year was a rather large, flat-screen TV. (You would think that a flat-screen would make everything easier since you could just put it on the wall, but it’s not working out that way in our living room.)
Besides the mess-in-the-guest-room and too-many-decorations-cluttering-up-the-house feeling, I also think I might have overdone it with the Christmas baking this year. The boys and I always make a lot of Christmas cookies to share as gifts with our neighbors and with their karate and music teachers, but we usually limit ourselves to 2 or 3 different kinds. This year we made 6 different cookie recipes, including double or triple batches of several of them. I also made apple and blueberry pies, cranberry-pumpkin-nut bread, 3 pans of cinnamon rolls, and hosted 2 homemade pizza parties.
I’m not complaining about all these kitchen projects … I really did enjoy doing all of the baking and having so many nice things to share with friends. But I usually exhibit a bit more self-control when it comes to figuring out how many baked goods we actually need. (I still have a large container of gingerbread cookies and another one of peppermint shortbread in the freezer!)
As I was pondering what might have triggered my “need” to triple or even quadruple the amount of baking I did this year, I realized that we spent last Christmas unexpectedly in Ohio. We were staying at my parents’ home and I was hobbling around on crutches because of foot surgery in November. Between the crutches and all of the extra activities at school in December, my mom did all of the Christmas baking last year. So when I pulled out my cookie cutters and Christmas recipes in my own kitchen this year, I wanted to use them all!
We enjoyed every minute of our Christmas vacation, our 30 dozen cookies, the pizza parties, the music performances, and the visits with friends. We had fun putting our own decorations on our own Christmas tree… the same artificial tree that we’ve had for 20 years!
The boys took special care in setting up our nacimiento this year, and one of them, who would not want to be mentioned by name, spent quite a bit of time grouping the animals according to their kind, and making sure that they were all facing the manger on December 24 when we took Baby Jesus out of hiding and put him in his humble place of honor.
But it’s time to take down the decorations, to wrap up each figure from the nativity scene … including the funny little fuzzy lamb with his Quechua hat and glued-on muzzle… and to store everything away in trunks on a basement shelf until next December.
Because it’s not the decorations that make Christmas. It’s not the cookies or the parties, or even the nativity scene that depicts the birth of a baby who had come to save the world.
Christmas is the amazing, unselfish, heartbreaking love given to us by God the Father so our broken hearts could be healed. We celebrate that love during this season, but it’s truly something that should be celebrated all year long.
So as the boys and I take down our Christmas decorations today, I will borrow the wisdom of Charles Dickens’ well-loved character:
I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.Ebenezer Scrooge
Halfway through writing this post, my niece Yenny took us to see an amazing Nacimiento in the home of her friend, Puma de los Andes, who is a local musician & artist. It was BEAUTIFUL, and warrants its own post on my blog. It made me feel slightly bad for taking down our nativity scene before the Bajada de Reyes this Thursday, but not after I heard that it takes this artist 2-3 MONTHS to put up his nacimiento, and almost that long to take it down again!