Today I un-decorated our house. I tend to over-do it a bit on the Christmas decorations. Okay, so there was a tree in every room of our house this year, and it was glorious. But, dang. Every year when it’s time to un-decorate I swear on all that is good and right that I will never, ever over-decorate for Christmas again.
And, every single December, when the Christmas music is going and the world seems to smell like apple cider and chocolate, I get so caught up in the magic of it all that I glitterize everything in my life that will stand still for 20 seconds.
So, I’m married. And, as a married woman I often make plans in my mind that I don’t let my husband in on. I just expect him to KNOW, you know? I depend on him to REALIZE what I want and expect him to do. And, I woke up this morning, on his day off, expecting that we were going to conquer the Christmas explosion that occurred in our house. I pictured us smilingly removing all signs of Christmas side by side, looking boldly into a new year together, filled with optimism for the future and a love for working toward a common goal.
But, things didn’t turn out exactly as I had planned.
He got all of the storage boxes out for me. And then he started working at his desk, doing all kinds of church work that needed to be done. He sent emails and worked on calendars and made phone calls. He listened to good teaching. He did some reading. And, all the while, I un-decorated my little heart out.
Really, I was fine with it. Until it came time to take the Christmas lights off of the gigantic Christmas tree that sat about three feet from his desk. The lights were the very last thing that I had to tackle after a long and wearying day of un-decorating. I had finally gotten the kids in bed, and although I hadn’t eaten supper yet and was way past the point of enjoying my work, I was determined to get the ridiculous number of white twinkly lights off of the tree and into a storage box.
I yanked on what seemed like millions of strands of lights. I struggled on tiptoes to reach the top of the tree. I sighed. I groaned. I worked through the impossible labyrinth of Christmas lights with a frown on my face and building resentment in my mind. I wasn’t happy. At one point I might have even announced how little fun that I was having.
He looked up with slight interest and a sympathetic nod. Yep, Christmas lights are the pits. And then he continued with his work.
He is still working now, paying our bills while listening to continuing legal education lectures. The man has been sitting at his desk, on his day off, working for a solid thirteen hours. And, still, I actually considered getting mad at him for not helping me enough today. No regard for what he was doing. No thought for the expectations that he had for this day.
It’s so hard to push aside selfish thinking when you’re married. It’s so easy to make every day about me. About how I feel. About what he should or shouldn’t be doing. I am so quick to feel entitled to everything in my marriage. But, lately I’ve been having strange thoughts.
I’m not sure exactly what prompted these thoughts that keep coming up at just the right moment. But, recently when I start feeling annoyed, when I am tired and want to take it out on him, when I’m upset that he didn’t say or do exactly what I thought he should, I think about what I would do if this were the last evening that we’ll ever have together. I consider, just for a moment, what if this is the last time we’ll sleep close and warm together in our bed? I remind myself that life is short, and that if we died tonight I wouldn’t want there to be any pettiness between us. No stupid words spewed over tangled Christmas lights. No overblown emotional display over things that don’t matter in the least.
And, when these thoughts come, I feel all of the selfish, foolish, self-centered tendencies of my heart melt away. And I see the truth that I am deeply loved by a great, godly, kind, tender, passionate, funny, brilliant man. And then I wonder what I could possibly be annoyed about.
I did finally get all of those stinking lights off of our Christmas tree. The house looks a little bare now, without all the glitter and twinkle. Tomorrow Chad will haul all of my Christmas pretties out to the shed, where they’ll wait out another blazing hot summer before the Christmas music begins again. I will try to remind myself not to over-decorate next December, but I know I’ll over-do it again. Chad will laugh. He loves it when I go overboard on Christmas.
God has given me a great love in this life. I hope we grow old and bent and wrinkly together. But, if we don’t, if somehow our love story is cut shorter than we’d like, I pray that we will be able to look back knowing that we loved like there’s no tomorrow. That we did life, and especially our marriage, as if we were working for God. And, I pray that we will point others to Christ by loving each other well, even on the non-glittery days.