However, I admittedly love twinkle lights -- the plain old white kind that don't blink.
There is something calming about them. They remind me of stars on a cold clear night. And stars to me symbolize direction. They were how seafarers of old navigated the oceans. Stars are there to remind us which hemisphere and season we're in -- even when the weather tells us otherwise. Plus, let's face it -- they're practical. They actually illuminate a room. I even keep them out through the dark nights of January and February.
My symbolic stars are the one consistent decoration I always string up for the holidays. Even when I lived on a ship off the coast of Africa, I still hung up white lights in my cozy cabin.
I like to have a single star hanging somewhere, too. When I decorated my cabin door for Christmas one year on the ship, I made a huge star and hung it there. Now, I have a single silvery glittery ornament acquired in a Christmas clearance that hangs in a window. This year it's flanked by two snowflakes. It's unlikely that I'll see the real stuff this year where we live.
Last year, I branched out with decorating for the holidays and I found a small tree for a whole dollar at a thrift store. I call it my Charlie Brown tree... it's only about a foot tall, and it's the perfect size for the miniature wooden ornaments I thrifted on the same day.
The other week some friends came over for dinner, and as soon as they arrived, they commented on our IKEA shelf. The next breath, they asked us if we had a Christmas tree.
The Charlie Brown tree was right on that same IKEA shelf.
They had missed it. I guess I had too many twinkle lights on the shelf -- the tree kind of got lost. I think so often in the glitz and glamor of this season, we miss it too. Not the Christmas tree itself, but something a whole lot deeper.
I missed it for years. I grew up in a church that didn't celebrate Christmas. (That, dear readers, is a long story for another time....) For years I dismissed the Christmas story itself simply because I didn't believe it actually occurred in December. But whatever time of year it happened is somewhat irrelevant to me now, because I believe it did actually occur at some point.
My father-in-law joked last week that Christmas has become man's tradition. It's true. But remember what I said earlier about stars symbolizing direction... my man-made stars and lights simply remind me of what I already believe.
Over two thousand years ago, the Magi followed a star. In this day and age of Google Maps and GPS systems, it seems so simple (and even a little crazy!) that the wise men of the day merely followed a star to find the One they knew they had to worship. A star.
This holiday season, in the midst of gift-wrapping, parties and holiday cookies, remember to reflect on the greatest gift ever given. Remember that this gift is free... with no strings attached. And the next time you see a simple star in the sky, remember the Magi and the reason they set off on their journey in the first place.
May your own journeys take you to wonderous and delightful places this season.