Mr. Andi and I decided to swim against the current this year and wait to put up our Christmas tree until Christmas Eve. We’ve never waited so late before – in fact, neither of us can remember a time in our combined almost-90 years of life when either we or our families waited to put the tree up on Christmas Eve. There was one year we didn’t put up a tree at all (don’t ask!), but none when we saved the Christmas tree for, well, Christmas.
I wish I could say that our decision to hold off on the tree until the end of Advent was based in a strongly held belief in the sanctity of Advent, but I can’t, because it wasn’t. The truth is that I hate putting up the tree, and no one else that lives in this house likes it, either. It’s pretty to look at once it’s up, but no one wants to put the work in to make it happen.
But the Great Christmas Tree Decision of 2014 was, at least, faith-related.
A few days after Thanksgiving, Mr. Andi and I were discussing the tree and when we might put it up. He casually mentioned how, historically, trees didn’t go up during Advent, but on Christmas Eve – and only after noon. Within moments, we had decided: we were going to do things the “old timey” way.
To be honest, it was partly a way to procrastinate.
It’s no fun to put the tree up after Mr. Andi gets home from work in the evening – he’s tired, I’m tired, the kids are tired – and Mr. Andi is loathe to pre-schedule decorating for the weekend (we live near the coast – the weather might be nice enough to fish!) But Christmas Eve? No fishing allowed.
But a funny thing happened on the way to Christmas Eve…
I actually liked leaving the house undecorated. We did hang our wreaths on the exterior doors and windows and set up the Little People Nativity Set in Nathan’s room, but everything else stayed in the attic. Not having the Christmas tree (or anything else) sitting about made me less stressed and more aware of Advent. I expected to feel like we were the oddball family, left out of the Christmas festivities, but instead our house felt more like an oasis of calm amongst the hustle and bustle of the season.
When Christmas Eve finally arrived, it truly felt like a celebration – something we’d been anticipating for weeks.
We decorated the tree, opened a few gifts early (something we never do), and went to the same Mass we usually attend. I’m not going to lie and say I had no Christmas season stress, but this year was different. And better.
Next year, in addition to the wreaths, I’ll put out the (non-Little People) nativity set at the beginning of Advent, as a (peaceful) reminder of what we’re awaiting, but we’ll wait until Christmas Eve to place the baby Jesus in it.