We're leaving soon, another year of holiday travels, and sometimes it's hard to get into the season. There are lists to be written and things to gather and gifts to buy and then it will be time to pack.
No, I don't think we'll bother with a tree this year. Keep the season simple. What's the point, anyway?
But the kids - oh, it's always those kids, drawing eyes up and hearts open because they see the worth in this sort of thing. Please Mommy? Pleeeeease can we put our tree up? We're not leaving yet!
And they're right. Why shouldn't we enjoy a bit more holiday sparkle before we pack ourselves into the car? Do I really have any reason to deny a request for more beauty, more joy, more light in our lives?
So I say yes.
They cheer, clean the living room in record time as I bring in the tree from the garage and dig out the decorations from the back of the closet. It's not much, our tree. Just a little half-sized artificial thing, but it fits our small space perfectly.
I unwrap treasures and hand them to eager boys. This one, I tell them, this one was from our first home. And this one was from your first Christmas, and here's yours too. And this one was from my first Christmas, when I was just a little baby like your sister...
I hand over an elf missing both his legs, a tall St. Nicholas in flowing robes, a train, some snowflakes. If you look closely, you can find some bits of mirth here and there: a flying cow, Chewbacca with a Christmas tree, a walrus with a Santa hat, it's good to laugh and we do, heartily. We top it with a star, plug the tree in, light the whole thing up.
I love its white lights and the way they sparkle off the ornaments. I love the string of red beads the boy added; you'd never know it was actually his necklace, sacrificed for the season. I love the star on top and the nativity below. And I love these boys for knowing beforehand that it would all be so worth it if I would only let it happen.
And why not? The world could always use more simple beauty and joy - bright lights to chase away the darkness, warmth in the midst of cold, smiles and laughter and delight, time spent together, reckless foolishness that casts off doubts and worries and why bother's.
Why bother? Because more joy is always worth it.