Festive decorations, marked by sparkles, shiny gold trim, and evergreen sprigs covered in fake snow. Handprint ornaments carefully preserved from pre-school days, filling our hearts with memories around every corner as they adorn our halls and home. Our well-loved pre-lit Christmas tree whose branches have been stretched and placed by so many little hands over the years. They’re all in storage this year.
I am one of those people who love decorating for Christmas. We have never had a ton of decorations or anything really fancy, but I get one or two new items each year, so all my decorations hold memories of when we got them, who made them, or where they came from. I love the festivity of pulling out special holiday decor. I adore Christmas lights, and I always come up with these huge plans for our house to be the most festive one on the street – that is, until my husband sees the plans, picks himself up off the floor, and reworks them into something more realistic. (It’s still pretty darn festive, though.) We love our family tradition of “coming home” to celebrate with my parents, who actually only live across town, but my brothers and their families all come to stay under one roof and celebrate Christmas morning together.
This year, “coming home” is more like “staying home,” because my husband, four children and I have taken up residence in my parents’ basement. We were blessed to have sold our house this fall, yet we are still waiting to find the perfect next home for us. In the meantime, we are extremely thankful that my parents have a big basement we can occupy while we wait. This basement has often been an oasis, a peaceful place of rest for countless guests, relatives, travelers, friends, even near strangers my parents have taken in over the years. It is warmly furnished, meticulously cleaned, and offers all the comforts of home.
But when you throw in two adults, four kids, furniture (because it wouldn’t all fit in storage), toys, backpacks, sports equipment, laundry (why does it never end?!), and all of our stuff, this little downstairs oasis can start to feel claustrophobic. We’re constantly losing things because every nook and cranny is used for storage, and we just can’t remember which nook and cranny we used for what. The kids’ homework supplies have overtaken one end of my mom’s grand dining room table because that’s the only place I can be sure they won’t lose things required for school. My family’s eating habits are a bit different than my parents’, leaving us with one refrigerator to house two sets of groceries. And the “meticulously cleaned” part of my parents’ home has gone out the window, or at least out the basement door, because I simply cannot with small kids at home. I have never been an excellent housekeeper (just keepin’ it real), so being all out of sorts in this situation has put me way behind in the cleanliness department. With all that has been going on lately, I just can’t seem to get into the Christmas spirit.
It’s not about my decorations in my home, though. As a pastor’s wife, you’d think I wouldn’t need a reminder about the true meaning of Christmas, but we all lose our focus at times. This season is about being with people you love, celebrating the greatest gift in all of history, remembering the traditions and stories that make us who we are. Our darkness has been infiltrated with and overtaken by Light. My family has a safe, warm, free place to stay and save while we are in transition. The kids are in heaven spending the night at their grandparents’ every day. We have everything we need, and that is something to celebrate.
My parents sweetly got a small, pre-lit tree for us to set up in the corner in addition to their stately Balsam Fir in the living room upstairs. My thoughtful husband got out one box of our own decorations and set a few things out around the basement. My mom offered to babysit this week so I could start on our Christmas shopping (yep, you read that right). I set up my Keurig downstairs so I can drink coffee in the early morning quiet and focus my head and my heart on this season of Advent. Because even if it’s in the chilly basement, there’s no place like home for the holidays.
I really must stay – Baby it’s cold downstairs
Got nowhere to go away – Baby it’s cold downstairs
This season will be – The children won’t sleep
So very tight – These concrete floors feel just like ice
My mother has started to worry – House hunting ain’t no hurry
Time to get this show on the road – Just kidding I’m ready to go
Stress is makin’ my vision blurry – Blankets must be heavy and furry
Geez there’s so much junk in the floor – To survive the draft from the door
I ought to move slow, slow, slow – How much are we really saving?
At least I’ll check Zillow one time – Guess we need to keep every dime
I really must stay – Baby we’ll make it
Ah, but it’s cold downstairs!