Expectations run high this time of year. Whether I’m checking out at the grocery store or making pleasant conversation at a business luncheon, people ask the same questions: “Are you ready for Christmas? Have you gotten your tree up?” And they ask with an excitement that implies I should be equally enthusiastic about decorating for the holidays.
I have a confession to make. Decorating for Christmas ranks near the top of my list of most stressful activities. Right up there with getting a root canal and taking a group of 4-year-olds on a field trip.
It all started when I was about 8 years old and sat across from Felicia Findley in school. The teacher gave everyone in class a picture to color. Same picture. Same colors. But when we finished our assignment, Felicia Findley’s masterpiece belonged in an art gallery. Mine belonged on a refrigerator door. I simply did not have “the touch.” I didn’t have it then and I don’t have it now. Whatever part of the brain coordinates the eyes and hands to produce a work of art doesn’t exist in my head.
On top of not having “the touch,” I’ve also figured out that I’m spatially challenged. Here’s what I mean. My daughter (who is fabulously artistic) can stand in an empty room and visualize a perfectly designed space. She knows exactly where each item of furniture should be placed. She determines where each piece of décor should hang without having to measure. I, on the other hand, must push and shove, arrange and rearrange, hang and re-hang before I can sense where things belong.
When you combine my lack of “the touch” with being spatially challenged, you can understand why I find decorating for Christmas (or any other holiday) to be incredibly stressful.
But there’s another factor that can easily add to the stress: the temptation to compare. If I’m honest, I must admit that this temptation to compare myself with others makes an appearance around the holidays. There’s no way to avoid noticing the differences in decorated trees, yards and even vehicles.
But if noticing the differences turns into comparison, and if comparison steals joy (which it inevitably does), then sin has entered the picture and we’ve got a problem.
Comparison is a slippery slope that leads to envy. Whether we’re comparing Christmas decorations (Suzie Q has 7 decorated trees in her home. How many do you have?) or Christmas pageants (What do you mean your church doesn’t use live animals?!), a spirit of envy can quickly overcome your holiday cheer. Be careful. Envy destroys. Proverbs 14:30 says that “a tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot.”
So, what can we do to combat the temptation to compare ourselves with others? First, be aware of the temptation to compare. The temptation is not a sin, but what we do with it can certainly lead to sin.
Second, celebrate the fact that you are God’s unique creation. Find ways to use the gifts He gave you to celebrate the holiday season.
Lastly, know your limitations and act accordingly. This weekend I’m going to tackle decorating the tree. Knowing that I’m spatially challenged, I plan on allowing myself plenty of time to arrange, re-arrange and start completely over. Eventually I’ll have a tree that pleases me. It won’t be as gorgeous as what Felicia Findley would create but hey, I’m not Felicia Findley. And I’m OK with that.