Home: It’s worth it

The Christmas boxes are all carefully packed and tucked away until next November. Every year, I fight a little anxiety as I pack them away. "If I'm not here next year, will they know how to find everything? Will they remember where it all goes? Will they be able to make Christmas?" Of course, this anxiety has its root in the fact that I finished treatment for cancer just as the Christmas season closed 24 years ago. Even if it's not conscious, my mind goes there, always will go there, it seems.

The reality, to be clear, is that I don't make Christmas at all. Christmas is entirely the Lord's. But I consciously do bring its presence into our home. And then, when it is safely packed away, I set about intentionally to continue to make the Baby Jesus a part of our ordinary days.

The last of the pine needles are swept, the last ornament tucked away, the bright red boxed up and we are tidy and clean and a little bare. Honestly, I don't miss the red and green - they clash terribly with the walls and the furniture. I do, however, want to nest and to brighten the winter days after the feast. Inevitably, I buy flowers those first few weeks in January. It's an instinct built into my motherhood.

"To a young child, home stands for God. In it he learns to see and touch the gifts of God. If his mother is wise, she will make his home beautiful. She will copy the world's Creator and make a tiny new Eden. She will bring in flowers and give the child animals and feed the birds. The food on the table will be clean and simple and good. It will not only taste nice, it will look nice. From all this the child will learn naturally that God did not make the hideous travesty that we have made of created things," (Caryll Houselander, The Mother of Christ).

Sometimes I wonder if the effort is worth it. I woke up this morning thinking about home and about all the ways I try to put into this home the things I wanted from home as child. There is magazine cover beautiful and there is "tiny new Eden" beautiful. In a home that is tiny new Eden beautiful, there is always a soft place to land. There are flowers, to be sure, but more importantly, there is the invitation to inhale their fragrance - there is the welcome and the urging to be a part of the beautiful, to take comfort in it, to enjoy one another amidst it. The effort we put into making things beautiful at home is only as valuable as the effort we put into making people truly feel welcome there and genuinely loved amidst the beauty. Hospitality is ours to extend from the moment our feet touch the floor in the morning. Is our family truly welcome in the home we create and in the spaces of our lives?

There is a point in beauty, Lord. You, the most extraordinary artist, made things beautiful. This is not the stuff of Pinterest competitions. This is the endeavor to let the Artist Creator live and breathe in me. Do not allow me to make a travesty of my household. Instead, help me to bring beauty from the resources You provide.

Foss, whose website is elizabethfoss.com, is a freelance writer from Northern Virginia.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2015

@elizabethfoss