So I have just been dying to show the blog-reading world my decorated mantel for Christmas. Because it is truly inspired. Prepare to ooh and ah.
Yes, you have my permission to pin that.
Okay, so my mantel looks like that because my kitchen looks like this:
Last week my husband was off from work and we decided it would be a good time to work on our kitchen cabinets. They were a honey oak finish, solid oak, but the wood was looking a little orangy and the grain was very…grainy. It wasn’t technically terrible, but it irked us. So we had this plan to re-glaze the cabinets. We read all about it on a DIY blog and thought, “yep, we got this.” Famous last thoughts. We started the reglazing with one cabinet door and decided it was absolutely not what we wanted and very expensive. Then, my husband did the entire kitchen cabinet frame (the part featured in the picture above) in a dark shade of Polyshade. Yes, in the picture it’s white. That’s because after about 3 hours of going into the kitchen, shaking our heads and walking back out, and muttering “arson,” we decided we hated the look of the darker cabinets. My husband dubbed the kitchen “The place where light goes to die.” That’s what brings us to this point–after swearing we would never paint kitchen cabinets again, we have applied three coats of primer to our kitchen cabinets in the last 36 hours. We are definitely past the point of no return. And I love it! I love having white cabinets. This is the third set of kitchen cabinets I’ve hand painted white in the last ten years. Hand. Painted. I am a bona fide artiste. And yeah, I really like white cabinets.
However, mixed with my joy at the prospect of my not-so-enjoyable kitchen becoming quite close to the kitchen I’ve wished for, there’s a large amount of guilt. My mantle is dismal. My porch garland is sitting in the box next to the front door. Our tree is up and decorated, but when is the last time I watered it? What about hanging some pretty ornaments with ribbon off of our (empty) curtain rods? What about making my house into a perfect winter wonderland for my tiny elves, ages 2 and 4?
Well…what about it? Why am I feeling this nagging shame at the half-baked state of my December home? The kids are playing with the manger scene. They’re listening to Christmas music. They’re watching Frosty The Snowman and and going to the Nutcracker Ballet and packing Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes. Ella is talking about how it’s Christmas time so she needs to give away some of the toys she already has. I think we’re covering enough to say that Christmas is alive and well in our household, despite the pots and pans stashed in random places all over the house.
Some years, Christmas doesn’t look like we think it should in our homes. Sometimes, the Christmas season collides with sickness, a major move, hard financial times, or a very non-essential home improvement project. So what do we do at those times? We throw away the magazines, delete the Pinterest app, do all our shopping online, and do the non-Christmas stuff that’s most pressing at the time. Even though my house isn’t perfect, I have plenty around me to be mindful of what I should really get out of Christmas. It’s just one thing, and it’s The Gift. The Gift is pure, selfless love. And love isn’t tinsel-covered. It doesn’t usually come wrapped in trendy burlap and twine, or decorated in velvet and satin. The Gift is a heart gift, and it has nothing to do with our surroundings. Love looks like a mom cleaning up throw up for the fourth time in the night. Love looks like a husband making his wife overjoyed with a little paint and a lot of work hours. Love looks like staying within a budget, no matter how small, because you know that’s the best gift you can give your husband. Love looks like a lot of things.
So whether your house looks like Santa’s elves themselves brought the Pottery Barn warehouse to your door, or whether your house is nowhere close to smelling like cinnamon and cloves (paint fume scented candle, anyone?), I hope we all can embrace the fact that Christmas doesn’t have a whole lot to do with what we see, but a lot to do with how we love, and Who loves all of us.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him, shall not perish but have eternal life.”