Sparkly foam gingerbread men, boughs of artificial spruce, and velvety poinsettias glisten inside unlabeled boxes, translucent to show what lies captive inside.
The wrought iron stair railings no longer twinkle with tiny stars, butterflies, and golden clusters. Even the mantle is bare, save for the layer of dust that somehow sifted through a woven masterpiece of coiled plaid ribbon and holly leaves.
Then there is the pink aluminum Christmas tree, almost undecorated, courtesy of the cat who tipped it over this evening, spilling ornaments across the floor.
He rests within a crepe paper nest deep in a cardboard box. His parents, the shepherds, and wise men lay beside
him, no longer able to see the Christ child through their own darkened veils.
Such putting away feels sad. Yet, in my heart, I know it is no large matter to put Jesus in a box and behind closed doors.
His absence from the table I see first thing every morning at the bottom of the stairs doesn't mean He will be absent from our daily lives for the next eleven months until His plastic visage makes an appearance again.
We don't have a once-a-year-Jesus here.
Still, the house seems almost sad to see those visible reminders of Christ's coming tucked away in boxes.
That is why tomorrow, the children and I will blanket the house again, this time in hearts, reminders of the One who taught us how to love, of the One who first loved us.
We can keep Christ the focus of every holiday, every season, and we must.
He is the author of love at Valentines Day,
of resurrection and new life at Easter,
of true freedom on Independence Day,
of every good and perfect gift at Thanksgiving.
Thank you Father that the Christmas celebration can resound in our hearts all year long.