Last year, I decided to decorate only my dining room at Christmas, and I was late doing so, too. Usually I have a small tree in every room but I just couldn't make myself do that. I made a deliberate choice for simplicity, and I truly enjoyed it more than anything more complex.
But this year, I was quite seriously thinking of not decorating at all. My house is still in disarray from all my sorting and furniture-moving and from far too many unfinished tasks. The living room is in utter turmoil.
I happened to mention my notion of not decorating to my back-door neighbor who enjoys decorating so much that she goes into Christmas overload. She has two full-size (think 8 and 10 feet) trees inside the house, and four more outside (one on each corner of her wrap-around porch). She even changes her curtains to suit the holiday. Her yard is so brightly lit that I can see it through the woodsy area that lies between her acreage and mine. Her efforts are stupendous, impressive, and really touching. Truthfully, I came to tears one year as I stood by her main Christmas tree because it was so special and so meaningful. Her caring showed in every little detail.
She asked me why I wouldn't decorate. I told her that no one ever sees it but me. That is when she said something insightful: "The important thing is that YOU see it." She's right. I need to make my own vision of the spirit of Christmas.
Perhaps I will only decorate the dining room again (it's my favorite place, after all) but I will decorate.
So last night, I got the Christmas nativity box down from the closet shelf and I searched out the beautiful beaded organza runners that I use only at the holidays. Then I set up the nativity on my antique English oak buffet. And I added the little vintage cat that I bought to join the nativity set--I've been searching for years for one that is just right. This little cat looks comfortable somehow, even though the size scale is a bit odd and even though she's not a tabby cat.
You see, I believe that nativity sets should have cats. That's because of my favorite Christmas fable. I shared the story last year but I'm glad to share it again today.
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Baby Jesus seemed a bit fussy and cold. Mother Mary was beside herself to know how to calm him but she just couldn't. Joseph also tried, and failed. The shepherds tried. The wise men tried. All of the animals in the stable tried. But no one could quiet the child. Finally, a very shy little tabby cat came down from the rafters of the hayloft, and she asked Mary if she might try. Mary nodded. The little tabby cat crept into the manger with the baby and warmed him with her soft fur. Then she sang a beautiful purring song that put Jesus gently to sleep. Mary was so grateful that she marked the top of the tabby cat's head with the letter M. And ever since that day, every tabby cat bears this mark of honor.
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Life is good.
I think I'll go do some more decorating.