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The Christmas Centerpiece

December 15, 2011

“Oh!” I clasped my hands together in elation as our teacher showed us an example of the centerpieces we would be making for our mothers. This was beautiful, and I could already envision the look of delight on my mom’s face when I carted home my own version. Mrs. White began pulling out the supplies we’d be using. First came dinner plate sized pieces of Styrofoamy looking stuff, stacks of greenery, ribbon to use as a border, pillar candles, and pinecones. I couldn’t wait to start poking the greenery into my masterpiece, but our teacher said the border needed to be glued on first.

“What color of ribbon would you like to use, Laura?” she asked.

“Red, definitely red.”

“Would you like to use the red and white stripe?” she prodded.

“No,” I shook my head, “I really want the red, please.” Mrs. White glued the ribbon around the edge and then gave me a piece of the evergreen. Gripping my hand firmly, she guided the foliage into the Styrofoam. After securing about three pieces that way, she pushed me aside and quickly finished the greenery, arranged the pinecones, and fit the candle into the center before moving on to the next child. “Here, Darren, why don’t you use the red and white striped ribbon? Don’t you think your mother will like that best?”

I felt a degree of disappointment at my lack of involvement, but the centerpiece was a vision of beauty. And the look on mom’s face when I presented it to her surpassed my earlier imaginations. Somehow, I failed to tell her my effort in creating it had comprised of picking out the red ribbon, and this was a deception I would keep up for many years to come.

As the Christmas season rolled around each year, I proudly pulled the creation out of its storage box and set it in the center of the dining room table.

Noise about disposing it first reached my ears when I was in high school. “I should really get something new for the table,” mom said casually. “We’ve had that ‘thing’ forever.”

“What?” I gasped. “Mom, I made that for you in kindergarten. How can you throw it away?”

When I came home from school that afternoon, mom had completely reworked the arrangement making it look almost brand new. I felt a twinge of guilt, but it did look nice.

A few years passed, and Berkeley, my baby brother, brought home his own version of greenery and candles. His looked suspiciously like someone had done most of the work for him, and I pointed that out when I asked, “Are you going to replace mine with his? I don’t think he made this by himself.”

“Oh no, there’s room for both of them,” mom said. Was that a shade of annoyance I heard in her voice? I’ve always suspected there was because that was the year it caught on fire.

I don’t know why I didn’t confess the truth then; instead I guilted mom in to rebuilding the thing one more time. At last the day came when she pulled it out of its box and said, “I just don’t think I can make this look decent anymore. Besides, I’ve replaced all of the original parts at least once if not twice.”

“Ah, just throw it away,” I said. Her eyes widened in disbelief as I sheepishly told her how little I’d actually done to make it in the first place.

We often hear that partial truth or leaving out key parts to a story in order to deceive someone is a bad as telling an outright lie. Unfortunately, Christmas often falls into the partial truth category.

Oh, we’re not like wicked Herod who told the Wisemen to search for Jesus so that he could come and worship Him. Instead as we get caught up in shiny decorations, music, materialism, and food in excess, the reason for the actual celebration gets pushed further and further from our minds. Sure, most of us still find time to read through the Christmas account in Matthew or Luke at least once, but how much time do we spend reflecting on God’s most amazing gift to us, His Son, baby Jesus who would grow into a man and die for a world lost in sin.

I love the gift giving, the music, the decorations, and even the food. I’m not suggesting that you can’t love God and do those things, but take time to remember and enjoy the real reason we celebrate Christmas and Who should be at the center of the holiday. “And she shall bring forth a son: and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.” Matthew 1:21

We have hope, not in decorations and new things, but in a Savior who is Christ the Lord.

The new centerpiece

A few days ago, mom told me what she’d like for Christmas this year. “I’d like a new centerpiece for the table,” she said.

I responded. “Are you sure you want one from me?”

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. December 16, 2011 5:54 am

    Ahh. Love this post Laura. I’ve heard the story before, but it just keeps getting better. 🙂 I absolutely adore your talent to connect real life stories to God. You are so right that we keep getting further away from the real reason for the season. This year we decided to do away with adult gifts, get together and bake and go to a church service. I am very excited and hope this is a new tradition! I hope you have a very Merry Christmas with your family Laura!

    • December 16, 2011 11:41 pm

      Stefanie, what a beautiful way to celebrate Christmas!

      I’ve had fun this year working with the little ones at church and helping them remember/learn about the true meaning of Christmas. Merry Christmas!

      • December 17, 2011 10:28 am

        Interestingly enough, my cooperating teacher had the kids journal about just this topic yesterday! It was absolutely amazing to see the divide. We had 1/3 of the class who said Christmas means presents and stockengs (as the spell it). 1/3 who said is about their famelies (again, as they spell it) and finally the last 1/3 said it was about baby Jesus! It melted my heart, especially since we are in a public school. It was just so sweet. 🙂

      • December 17, 2011 9:59 pm

        So sweet! I bet those journals were priceless. I love seeing how first graders sound things out and then spell them exactly the way they sound, and they are so honest at that age about what they’re thinking.

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