Home decorators make the world a more beautiful place. Between artists – who plan and place to produce a certain effect – and “put-er outers,” I fall into the second group. We’re the ones who use ultra-simple approaches to finery and festivities by selecting decor, storing it in original packaging and removing it for annual display.
On a recent Saturday morning, I realized a guest would be dropping by that evening. . The thought of an unwelcoming front porch or even a barren living room propelled me to action. With no hint of the holidays displayed, I went into hyper drive – determined to prioritize by putting out a few choice decorations. I swept the porch, cleaned my front door (gasp!) and then lovingly placed the closest thing I’ll ever have to snow – a handcrafted felt snowman that stands 3’ tall. My mom created him years ago and I liked his country-looking plaid scarf, matching hat and smile. He definitely projected the homey “Welcome to our Home” feeling I was after. We live in Florida where it was a 100-year high of 84 last week followed by 50 degrees the next day.
After finishing the front porch, I headed for my front window wonders – five large dimensional stars with white lights. Their peaceful glow would surely enhance the smiling snowman’s presence. Merrily, I opened each large, square shaped box. As I removed the stars, small, crummy suction cups fell out. They half-heartedly stick to the windows so the stars can hang in place. On a good day, I only have to re-attach them once or twice, but I was in too good a mood to let those little hangers hamper my efforts.
Perched high above my floor was the empty mantel on which I would eventually set the hand painted, antique-looking ceramic nativity. I surveyed its naked landscape deciding to not rush putting it out and possibly risk breaking it. The mantel is the only place where the set is safe from felines – the three real ones who live with me, my sons and husband.
But what occupied my mind were the two puppet-like, animated kittens hidden in the motion-activated plastic box that looks like a gift. After placing it on my grandmother’s buffet in my living room and plugging it in, its lid raised. The Singing Felines appeared and began meowing their way through various Christmas carols – 15, I think.
I savored the sound. It was one of the first Christmas decorations my husband and I had bought together.
As I stood back admiring my handiwork, one family member [who shall not be named] walked up and asked, “Why did you get those out?”
“These,” I said, “are seasonal song makers. Besides, I like them.”
Said family member responded by proclaiming his preference: “Why don’t you just put them out and not turn on the music?”
“Because the music makes it!” I replied defensively..
Then the unthinkable happened. The unnamed family member then reached to the back of the box and flipped the switch to off!
“At least let it be partly open so you can see the kittens!” I pleaded.
The hand reached back around the box and moved the switch to begin the cycle. Once the furry felines reached their “peek-a-boo” position, he stopped their motion.
And then said family member left me there, staring at the silent box, the muted kittens and then, in an uncharacteristic moment of quiet, a semi-spiritual thought hit me.
How many times in life am I like this box? Closed to everyone. Partially open but mute. Completely open and praising my heavenly Father. Plugged in and utilizing God’s power. Turned off and satisfied to be silent.
In that moment I decided to figuratively switch my life into “blessing mode” – to purposefully encounter sales people and strangers and to greet them with a smile. I even determined to deliver uplifting words to bell-ringers. And when I’d have to wait in line, I would do so with patience and a “thank you” once I have been helped.
Will this decision change the world? Probably not. But I can’t help but think that making music in my life has more to do with being in the Father’s presence than buying physical presents.
Why don’t you join me and turn on your switch to “blessing mode?” I’d be honored to have you join me.
And that evening visitor for whom I was preparing? She only made it to the front porch before having to leave. I wish she could’ve have heard “We Wish You a Meowy Christmas.”