Kirsten Panachyda

Writer, Speaker, Singer-Songwriter

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Burlap Tree

Christmas is all the way over. I love celebrating all twelve days, from December 25 through January 6, Epiphany. When the kids were little, we did a different fun activity each day. We often watched a movie trilogy for three of the days. Going to visit relatives or having them come to us counted. So did breakfast for dinner. These days my favorite perk is that when I don’t get everything done by Christmas Eve (ahem, Christmas cards), I can give myself a break because there are still twelve more days. This year I sent some cards on the sixth day of Christmas. 

But now it’s really over and the new year is unquestionably underway. The Christmas tree has been down for nearly a week. More true confessions: None of us were really feeling it this December. Our path with Nicholas and bipolar has made a hard turn again. Keeping steady, walking in a different direction, and being kind to each other took energy otherwise available for things like decorating. I actually love what we finally did. Nicholas and I created a “tree” with burlap, an abstract design, and wooden dowels. We hung it on the wall by the fireplace. We took out just the box of ornaments and all of us chose some and hung them in the open weave of the burlap. 

We got to look at our favorites and enjoy our memories. Our wedding! That fantastic trip! Buying our house! But the whole thing was devoid of labor or bickering or the dread of January clean-up.

Our decor sure wouldn’t have won any awards. Or even a second glance on Pinterest. (But I bet if some truly crafty person took this idea and ran with it, it would be stunning.) But for us, this year, it was the perfect definition of that elusive concept, self-care. I didn’t stress out over trying to get everything right. Neither did I set myself up to feel dreary over not having any decorations. 

I must admit, though, even taking down my one burlap tree made me gloomy. The hard business of walking that new direction seems a little harder now that Christmas is over. Yet my mind keeps going back to one of the famous Scripture passages that we often read in December:

“For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; 

And the government will rest on His shoulders; 

And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, 

Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. 

There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, 

On the throne of David and over his kingdom, 

To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness 

From then on and forevermore. 

The zeal of the LORD of hosts will accomplish this.”

Isaiah 9:6-7 NASB

Familiar words for people who attend church, or those who have ever sung in a choir. In fact, I can’t hear it without Handel invading my mind for at least a day. But this year,  the phrase that captured my imagination was not in the famous chorus from Messiah. 

“There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace.”

No end to the increase… of peace.

Peace is not static. It is not one-and-done. Peace increases. 

The more the Prince of Peace reigns on this earth, the more His government and His peace will increase. The more the Prince of Peace reigns in my life, the more His ways, His law of love, His peace will increase in me.

Peace be with you, friends.

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