As much as I enjoy my monthly Southern Living magazine, I feel woefully inadequate when the December issue arrives.
The covers always have immaculately decorated multi-layered white cakes with elaborate garnishes. This year’s featured edible vintage ornaments.
One of my friends always posts a picture of the cover on Facebook with the caption: “Another cake that I will never make.”
I was thinking about how our over-the-top holiday expectations relate to a book/Bible study I just finished called Church of the Small Things by Melanie Shankle. The message of the book is to focus on the small things rather than waiting for the next “big” thing.
I’m never going to bring home the 12-foot flocked tree from the Christmas tree farm on the top of my van. (Or is it a vintage red truck?). Fresh garland won’t be running down my staircase and my family won’t be wearing matching monogrammed pajamas.
There are galas never attended (or even invited to), gingerbread houses never made, the “perfect” gift never bought.
And, in Louisiana, none of our Christmases will be white, either.
But if Jesus could be born in the simplest of surroundings, do we really need these things to have a Merry Christmas.
As I tossed the Southern Living aside, I looked at my own Christmas small things that still bring great joy– a grainy photo of my then 12-year old daughter when it DID snow in Louisiana a few years ago. Another is a fragile cinnamon gingerbread ornament made by my other daughter that has miracuously stayed intact from second grade through pharmacy school.
And, then I remembered my box of Christmas cookie cutters — small things but when put to good use can bring a lot of joy .
My favorites are the smallest ones, part of a boxed set. I remember the little angel tea cakes I made for a children’s Sunday School party and cheese straw “croutons” in the shape of Christmas trees and candy canes that gave a festive touch to tomato basil soup.
So instead of spending time in this final week making the perfect Christmas dessert or buying the perfect Christmas gift, think about the “small things” or “tiny cookie cutters” in your life that you can use to bring joy this Christmas?
Savoring hot chocolate in a Christmas mug with an old friend.
Making personalized gift tags with old photos or craft your own
Or sharing your faith as big as a mustard seed.
Or your widow’s mite.
Or a word aptly spoken.