My tree has been up since before Thanksgiving and I've been listening to Christmas music since the beginning of November...it's safe to say Christmas time is my favorite time of the year.
I hit up all the after-Christmas clearance sales last year and several pre-Christmas sales this year to gather decorations. I convinced my husband to let me decorate early, arguing that since we will be out of town with his family over Christmas I needed extra days to enjoy it before hand. I think he only conceded to my request because he considers them to be birthday decorations.
Our small apartment has been transformed in every way possible - every available inch is covered in something Christmassy. I stopped decorating when I ran out of space. Among all of the decorations, my favorite by far is our tree. It is a sweet collaboration of ornaments from my childhood, ornaments I have given to my husband, and ornaments we have collected together.
Loving the tradition my parents started in giving an ornament each year, I carried that over into my marriage. Last year, I made my husband an "Ugly Sweater" ornament to represent his love of "conversation starting" sweaters. This year, one that reads "Happy birthday to you" as a marker for his upcoming birthday. I look forward to many more years of ornaments to come.
A few ornaments we have attained since being married are the Guinness ornament that we brought back from Ireland, and a hand print ornament that was given by the baby I nanny.
There is one particularly special ornament that was given to us last year - a Starbucks cup. Not only are we huge fans of coffee, but this ornament represents God's faithfulness. Last December, I was meeting with a woman who I would consider a great mentor and friend at Starbucks. We gathered to pray for a job for my husband. He had been out of work for almost two months - money was tight and stress was high. It was a difficult time for us, and the approaching holidays made it worse. We wanted our first Christmas as husband and wife to be special, and we were concerned how we would do that with little-to-no money to spend on each other. As I expressed all of this to my mentor friend, she decided right then and there we would ask God to provide a job for my husband. As we parted ways that day, she gave this ornament to me. A few weeks later, my husband got a job at the very same Starbucks we were in when we prayed for him. This Christmas, as my husband says goodbye to Starbucks and moves onto a new job, I am reminded of how God came through for us. Starbucks provided our family with income, insurance, and coffee. We are both so grateful for that provision, and each time I see that ornament, I am reminded of why we celebrate Christmas at all. Just as God sent Starbucks to provide for us in 2014, he sent another provision for us two thousand years earlier - a Savior. Born as fully God and fully man, Jesus provided much more for us than income, insurance, and coffee. He provided hope, love, joy, and peace. I am thankful for that reminder each time I see the Starbucks cup hanging on our tree.