Clean the Closet

It’s January first and everyone knows that we now switch over from the Christmas shopping, decorating, and eating to the January cleaning, organizing, and exercising. Funny how we are all on the same page when it comes to such things. We must all be related after all. The storekeepers know this about us, so down come the decorations and out come the files, planning books, and exercise equipment. And the diet centers know this as well, and they are offering special deals to get us back on track after the big fudge binge.

I don’t think God minds this about us; after all, it seems to be a design feature. He gives us new mercies every single morning, an opportunity to start again, a fresh beginning every day as the sun comes up. He gives us new weeks, new months, and new years. And we find pleasure in that. Our kind Creator is willing to wash away our sins more than daily, knowing that we are the sort of creatures who just can’t stay out of messes. We need ongoing opportunities for the fresh start.

We can’t look to ourselves to be new people in a new year. Pity the world as they try like the dickens to find some strength deep within themselves to put things right. God has put the desire to be put right in our hearts so that we will look away from ourselves to our Savior. And Christianity is the religion for us because we all need a Savior.

So whether we start new diets or exercise programs, organize our closets , set new goals for our finances, or just try to be better people in general, we must not only look to Him for the grace to do it, but we must also offer it all to God as a means of glorifying Him, not ourselves. Otherwise, all our resolutions will last about five minutes.

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12 thoughts on “Clean the Closet

  1. But let’s wait until Epiphany until we pull down the Christmas decorations. We’re only on “seven swans a-swimming” as of today!

    Good thoughts on resolutions and new starts.

  2. Angie, you’re as good at math as I am. I thought yesterday was the sixth day, because I was counting the 25th as day zero rather than as day one. But yesterday was swans and today is milk-maids.

  3. Uh oh. Is it swans or milk maids? And just what do you all do to celebrate these twelve days? I would be interested to know.
    But sorry, the tree had to come down. It had gotten crusty.

  4. As part of our family’s attempt to return to a more faithful celebration of the church calendar, my dad encouraged a few minor changes (we have to take baby steps when it comes to changing long-standing traditions!) in the way we celebrated Christmas this year. He wanted us to be able to keep our tree up through Epiphany (without burning the house down!) so we put it up later than we usually do. We’re hoping to work up to actually waiting until Christmas Eve (the beginning of Christmas in our home) to put up the tree. We’ve also conidered putting up and decorating the tree, but not lighting it until Christmas Eve. The idea is to incorporate more waiting and longing into the Advent season, and to wait until Christmas to actually start the party.

  5. Sorry, I hit “enter” before I was done . . . I haven’t even gotten to the Twelve Days yet! This year, my mom and I put our heads together and planned small gifts for my dad and younger siblings and/or family activities for each of the Twelve Days, not including Christmas Day. Some days are small, easy gifts (today we all got stationery for writing our Christmas thank-yous. . . cute AND practical!) and some days we planned something that falls under the “splurge” category. . . coffee and a movie, for example. Our family is hosting a church Epiphany party to round our the festivities. This is our first attempt at celebrating the Twelve Days, so I’m sure that as the years go by we will get better at this. I, too, would love to hear some of the ways that all you gals celebrate the “Forgotten Eleven” days. (I, for one, did not need anyone to twist my arm into viewing Christmas as a twelve-day holiday instead of a one-day holiday!) Merry Christmas! We’ve still got four days left!

  6. I had actually googled the question before posting and am still not sure whether the first day of Christmas is Dec. 25 (which would mean Epiphany isn’t part of the 12 days) or whether the first day of Christmas begins Dec. 26. One source I read says the first day of Christmas begins on the eve of Dec. 25. If that’s the case, when I posted my comment (Jan. 1 at 4 p.m.) we still had another couple hours of swans to go. 🙂 Oh well.

    We don’t do a whole lot during the 12 days (since, after all, school starts back up today) other than keep our Christmas decorations up and continue to light our Advent candle on the table during dinner. (We have an artificial tree, though, so we don’t have to worry about the falling pine needle problem.) It’s not time to move on from those Christmas hymns just yet! At a former church we had an Epiphany evensong service which ended the season.

    Speaking of hymns and Epiphany, I really like your husband’s Epiphany hymn in the Cantus Christi, “Let All the Stars in the Skies Give Praise.” I’m impressed that he wrote the words and the music, which is lovely.

  7. We still have the decorations up, but the advent candles bothered my mom’s allergies, so those aren’t getting lit any more this year. This is the first year we’ve attempted to celebrate all 12 days. We saved out enough books and audio books so the kids could still unwrap a couple presents each day for the 12 days–it’s 12 days of stories at our house! I have a friend who gets gifts for the family for the 12 days and her kids take turns opening them. Usually just one big thing and the rest little and they correspond to the meaning of each thing in the 12 days song… and then open the baby Jesus out of one of the nativities on the 12th day. They really do it up, though, and also do St. Nicholas day on the 6th of Dec. and also try to do something for the feast of Holy Innocents (I think the 3rd day of Christmas?) like volunteer @ a Crisis Pregnancy center or something. I’m sure she could tell this much better, but has mentioned that writing on a blog is so nerve-wracking she won’t do it again! So, this may be the best you get! 🙂 Recommended reading: George Grant & Gregory Wilbur’s book Christmas Spirit. (I have yet to finish it, but hope to glean some great ideas for celebrating bigger, better, and more meaningful with each year that passes!)

  8. Amen and Amen

    Yes, absolutely we must go back to robustly celebrating the Christmas season which is the twelve days of Christmas. There is a sort of culmination of the season with Twelfth Night which is the night of January 5th, that marked the eve of Epiphany. There was a time when Twelfth Night was celebrated with a ball or a big party of some sort. Then Epiphany comes on Jan. 6th.

    My oldest daughter is from my first marriage so it has always been very difficult to build traditions when she didn’t have a set schedule for the holidays. One year she’s here next year she’s not and so on. Anyway, because we longed to have something ALL of us could share together as a family we started doing our own family Christmas dinner on Jan. 6th (Epiphany). We are slowly working our way to a fuller celebration of the entire season from the first day of Advent to Epiphany. I always want to do things in a big way, but my wonderful husband knows how to moderate me in these areas so I have learned to be okay with starting out doing things small. I think we are going to try to have a small family Twelfth Night celebration this year.

    It is difficult in this day and age to reclaim some of the more robust traditions of Christendom that have gone on before us. Especially when you consider it was the church who was leading the way, teaching the families, holding services and observing certain Holy Days and traditions, etc. etc. I long to see a vibrant Christendom. I long to see the day of robust worshiping, living and feasting…. Until then, may everything we do be done for the glory of God alone.

    Soli Deo Gloria

  9. Angie, I grant you your pre-dusk swans. Now if you can talk Mike into letting us sing that Epiphany hymn, we’ll really be in business.

    As for what I celebrate, it’s more like how I make excuses. I was just getting my Christmas cards done on Monday!

  10. I was thinking about the days starting in the evenings, and I suppose it makes sense for Christians to think that way. We start our week with the Sabbath — a period of rest — why not start each day that way?

  11. I’d love to learn more about the 12 days celebration. But, for what it’s worth… as a nod to Mr. Christmas Tree himself, we put up a tree on Reformation Day (artificial, of course). It ushers in the entire holiday season with Thanksgiving- nothing to be more thankful for than Christ- then on through Christmas and New Years. I know it’s corny, but it’s festive. No doubt, life in DC is a flurry, so it was nice to savor the season and Savior.

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