The tree is up.
The nativity sets are unpacked, the stockings are hung by the chimney and the house smells of sap.
The ritual of preparing living space as proclamation of hope is sacred work. There are musts in my home: Julie Andrews has to sing, the stupid looking elf must be at the top of the tree, and the Christmas village has to be arranged and wired to shine.
I wonder sometimes about the hassle of it all. Who has time for such nonsense, anyway? Why not skip the pine needles under foot and the clutter of it all? My kids are grown, the grandchildren not yet, and life is busy busy busy.
But what I have come to is that I need it, this ritual of hope. I need to unwrap ornaments made by my children in kindergarten. I need to remember Christmases past when dressing the tree for Christmas was a work of great excitement and joy. I need to mourn the passing of years and savor the richness of the now and I need to deck our halls with the familiar.
It matters greatly. When my children arrive from places far from home, they will know themselves wrapped in the good of a place where goofy elves straddle tree tops and rituals of hope are commenced and space proclaims through scent and sight:
Een so Lord Jesus, quickly come.