P.O.P.D. In case you missed my social media post, these initials represent a very serious, potentially debilitating, often contagious, disease that effects thousands annually: Perfect Ornament Placement Disorder. Over the years, much of the extreme cases have been lessened due to an inordinate amount of people turning to pre-lit and permanently decorated (fake) trees. Could it be that they had reached their limit of the drama and stress of erecting and organizing a perfect tree…year after year after blessed year?
Well, ever since that post, which received over 25,000 hits (highest in Soul-Selfie history!), I have been wondering why that seemed to resonate with so many people. And naturally, I decided I better dive a little deeper and explore ways we can get some recovery from this serenity-threatening disease.
I considered that it might be a condition that primarily effects those of us with extreme control issues. I think that’s a viable option and I could write for hours about that one. But ultimately, I want to talk about one major component of this prefect placement obsession: BALANCE.
It’s all about balancing out the tree so it not only looks perfect, it stays upright.
Balancing a tree is imperative. We learned this the hard way a few years ago when a loud crashing sound woke us up in the middle of the night. We ran to the living room to find our giant tree on it’s side with ornaments scattered throughout the living room. We couldn’t quite get it steady, so we just tethered it with fishing wire to the window frame. Problem solved.
Apparently, we didn’t learn our lesson very well. At a new home a couple of years later, Blake’s sweet great-grandma (read: pretty old and somewhat frail and slowish) was observing our Christmas tree, when “timbeeerrr”, it fell over on top of her before she knew what hit her. No injuries. Just a teensy bit of trauma.
Here is the main problem as I see it. Over the years it has been a tradition for each grandparent to get each of my 3 children an ornament that represented something they we obsessed about at the time. We have lots of basketball ornaments, band instruments, ballerinas and in ungodly number of Disney-related ornaments. Multiply 6 new ornaments a year by 3 children and by year 5 we could barely even see the branches.
We also have some that were purchased from craft malls and are made of clay. Clay=heavy. These have to be put on first because, to avoid the whole “tree falling on grandma” thing, you have to balance them out with other ornaments.
So, now that I am 439 words in, I’ll try to land this plane….
Christmas, like no other time of the year, tends to provide us with countless opportunities to get out of balance.
There are parties and concerts and pageants and decorating and shopping. All fun. All good stuff. But even through we are preparing for the birthday of the One who came to give us peace and rest and the ultimate sense of balance, we are frenzied, frantic and freaking out.
However, I am not oblivious or insensitive enough to assume those are the only things that knock us off our center. Our world is riddled with people who are suffering from loss, grief, divorce, addiction, financial difficulties, health crises, depression, and despair—those clay ornaments whose weight can pull down the tree of life we are all trying keep upright. It can be an exhausting and sometimes excruciating expenditure of emotional, spiritual and physical energy.
When I decorate my tree, I always start with the heavy ornaments and then, at the end, I strategically position 20+ shiny red (cheap and cheesy) balls to fill in the gaps. This balances out the weight but also the aesthetic vibe of the overall tree.
Christmas can be a time when the heavy feelings and circumstances of our lives (the clay ornaments) and those we love can override the sparkly light ones (the shiny red balls). We have to be intentional about sprinkling in some fun activities or sweet moments of prayer, meditation or reflection to counteract what threatens to steal our joy during the holidays.
And remember how I got my tree to stay up that one year? I tethered it to the window frame. No matter what ornaments are on your tree this year, you would do well to keep it tethered to a source of strength that can prevent it from falling.
Remember: God is the stronghold that holds you strong. Tether your heart, your spirit, your entire being to Him. He alone can keep you fully balanced. He is aware of all that is weighing you down. He knows you feel like you are running in circles and doubt you will ever get your shopping done in time. He understands that you are dreading your family get together or grieve that your family looks different this year since your loved one passed. He sees your pain, your strain, your sorrow.
As I re-read a blog I wrote at Christmas a few years ago, one particular sentence stood out to me: Jesus didn’t just come to earth as a baby 2,000 years ago…He stayed.
His spirit stayed here so He can help you stay balanced. He is available for help if you just ask. We don’t have to obsess about the tree anymore. There is a remedy for the P.O.P.D. We can simply turn over our will and our lives to the care of God and invite Him to balance us out.
He’s got you.