I do have one decoration up...a nativity. I leave it out year round. Once someone said, "Oh, you forgot to put away a decoration last Christmas?" No, I leave it up all year to remind me of the amazing gift of God found in Jesus. I need a little Christmas everyday.
Around this time of year people talk a lot about their traditions regarding the nativity. Add a piece at a time, put baby Jesus in the manger on Christmas Eve, wrap baby Jesus up and open him Christmas morning as the first gift, put all the people out at the same time. There are other traditions, I am sure.
I have a bunch of nativities - I love them. And - I put all the pieces out as soon as I start decorating. Here's why:
My kids and I will hear over and over this Advent season about Santa. They will see Santa at the mall, at the bank, on TV, in the form of chocolate, as a lego piece, on wrapping paper, postage stamps... Everywhere they look, they will see Santa. In my house - they will also see Jesus.
Honestly - I love the "magic" of Christmas...not in a Harry Potter sort-of way, but rather I love the mystery, the awesomeness, the surprise, the togetherness which Christmas brings. Basically - the holiness...that's what I love. The holiness is the "magic" for me.
My kids do get visited by Santa...I love it. In some ways, for me, Santa helps my kids become more giving. I don't think there's anything wrong with that. But by putting Jesus out there for me and my kids to bump into everyday we're reminded that Christmas is not even about us learning to give - it's about what's been given to each of us out of extravagent love.
Really - whatever your traditions - celebrate them. We carry those on, we use those traditions to make sense of our lives. As you anticipate and watch for the coming of Christ this year, may you bump into him in unexpected and surprising places.