Visit my show at the PSCCU Credit Union, Vashon, Washington May, June 2024 

Beauty and the Holidays

I caught up with the Angel of Beauty the other day as she stared into a storefront.

“Beauty,” (as she let me call her), “what do you think of all this holiday decorating?”

She sighed. “You know the word ‘decorate’ means to adorn, embellish and beautify. Its roots include honor and grace. I hope that’s what people feel when they fill their stores and homes with decorations.”

“I don’t know,” I responded. “Did you know that in the United States, we spend 36 billion dollars annually on Christmas decorations—without even counting those for other December holidays? I’m not sure that there’s a lot of grace in our over-decorated malls.”

“I try and stay out of malls,” she replied, “although it’s not my place to judge. I go where I’m invited and where I’m needed. My favorite assignments are sometimes the simplest.

“I’ve been called to refugee camps by mothers who harvest a single desert flower to beautify a meal, arrange a few branches, hang a scarf on a makeshift wall, or say a blessing to sanctify a simple, traditional meal. Those people cherish their bits of decoration and I feel very honored.

“But in America, I see people rushing about in malls who don’t even notice the huge bouquet placed at the front of a store.”

“Wouldn’t you prefer to hang out in the refugee camp?” I asked.

She stayed quiet for a moment.

“You know it’s not always about what people do, but the spirit in which they do it.”

“How could we do better?”

She offered me her suggestions.

Go slower. I know that people have a lot to do in the holidays, but if they slowed everything down maybe they could see more and feel more.

“And try to feel a sense of honoring with each act of decoration.

Gaze a little more. Soak in the color, shapes, beauty, and memories that live in an ornament. Enjoy the feel of a candle before it is lit. Smell the tree, the boughs, or the foods you are making.

“Do everything you can with devotion.

Perhaps add music—music you love and not the canned stuff that your ears stop hearing after a while. Maybe hum, sing your own tune, or sing with others.

“Everyone creates their unique path to Beauty—with scents, touch, music, colors, and more. I love lights glowing in the darkness.

“But most of all be grateful. Send a prayer for those who are suffering. Ask for Beauty to visit them. As, of course, I will.”

I nodded, knowing that I also needed to slow down and appreciate more.

2 Responses

  1. My holidays are pretty unconventional – as are my decorations. Everything I put on my Christmas tree is personal and much loved: my daughters silver baby spoon on a silver ribbon, the Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn ornaments my “sister-of-the-heart” brought me from her trip home to England in about 1982, the paper snow flake my son made in 2nd grade. I wouldn’t trade those things, or any of the others for any expensive bauble from a mall. I make nearly all the gifts I give at Christmas – from knitted items to loaves of my special cinnamon bread. All this comes after years of empty busy looking for something that made Christmas meaningful for me. Took me a long, long time, a divorce and a lot of therapy, and many losses to come to this place. All the blessings of the holidays to all of you.

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