Six years ago, my parents built a house in Tallahassee, Fla. The house was finished the week before Christmas, and we moved in Dec. 22. There were cardboard boxes stacked to the ceiling in every room, furniture turned sideways resting against the walls, and the slightly dizzying smell of new paint clinging to the air.
Dad and I went to Lowe’s on Christmas Eve to buy a Christmas tree. There were less than a dozen left. The one we found was $5 and missing half its branches on one side. We took it home, and my brother and I dug through all the boxes in the garage until we found the one with the Christmas ornaments in it. We hung them on the tree while Mom and Dad tried to unpack the bare minimums.
We couldn’t find our stockings, the star was too heavy for our feeble tree, and all our church clothes for the Christmas Eve service were wrinkled from being bunched up in boxes for days.
It was the best Christmas ever.
We were so giddy to be in our new, finally-finished home. The inconveniences seemed trivial and humorous. We drank hot chocolate while sitting on boxes, laughing as our dog ran around the living room with packing tape stuck to her nose.
If anything, the wackiness of that Christmas was bonding, causing us to focus on what Christmas should be about — the birth of Jesus Christ, celebrated with friends and family — rather than the piles of presents under the tree.
It was sparse and simple and uncomplicated and beautiful.
You will break, forget, outgrow, upgrade and exchange the presents you get this year. It’s cliché, but for goodness sake — take an hour you normally would spend browsing the Internet for Christmas list ideas, grab some coffee, and spend some time in prayer, thanking God for sending us a savior to celebrate.
Jessi Emmert is a senior journalism and history major. She also works at Our Sunday Visitor publishing company. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.