Letting go of Christmas traditions can be hard. Be open to a new way of seeing.
by Jesse Prentiss
Decorating for the first Christmas in my new house after a moving from Ohio to Texas started out exciting as we determined where we should put the tree and hung the stockings on the new fireplace mantel. I sang along to “Deck the Halls” as I unpacked décor boxes like a giddy kid on actual Christmas morning.
Frustration began to unwrap as I uncovered broken ornaments, realized I didn’t own enough matching garland for the staircase and assessed that snowshoes and sleds looked out of place on my Texas front porch when it’s 60 and sunny.
Finding a new home for all my decorations only served to emphasize that I still didn’t feel settled and highlighted how out of place I felt. So many of my Christmas traditions were tied to my geography, to the ice, snow, and cold. To top it all off, real Christmas trees cost a small fortune here. I’ve always had a real tree but it goes way deeper than that. My elementary school best friend’s dad was a Christmas tree farmer and I grew up playing in trees purposed for Christmas. We sawed trees down ourselves out of the snowy woods all bundled up catching snowflakes on our tongues. I have vivid childhood memories of being lifted by my dad to put the angel on the top of the tree; I can still smell the pine sap and feel the needles poke at me. If I haven’t inserted enough dramatic emphasis, my husband and I gave pine trees as wedding favors! Getting a fake tree felt like an exchange for my soul. Now I was feeling unsettled, out of place, and, to top it off, a loss of identity. Bah. Humbug!
But just as Scrooge had to resolve with his past and present in order to secure a better outcome for the future I turned to God in prayer to regain true Christmas spirit.
As I found a new location for my nativity scene and placed baby Jesus in his manager I was reminded of the biggest move in history. Jesus moved into human form and took up residence with us. John 1:14: “So the Word (Jesus) became human and lived here on earth among us.” Talk about feeling unsettled, out of place, and a loss of identity!
I felt a sense of peace just realizing Jesus could relate. He submitted to God’s will, moved from the comforts of heaven to a new world, a world that didn’t recognize his identity. I will only feel settled when I invite Jesus to abide in my heart. I feel secure that I belong to a person not a place. It doesn’t matter where I moved or where I might move next. My identity is found when I remain in Him not in the past, present or future.
This year as my husband lifts my daughter to top off the fake tree with the angel, I will let it remind me what is real.
Jesse Prentiss is first and foremost a child of God. She has been married to Jared Prentiss since 2000 and they are blessed with a son and daughter. She still calls Michigan home, where she was born and raised, and has also lived in Ohio for many years. Her husband’s corporate moves has relocated them several times before their latest stop in Texas in 2015. She received her first copy of After the Boxes Are Unpacked in 2001 as a gift; she went on to help lead classes in Ohio and currently leads in Texas.
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