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By Laurel Pattenden

Just as Advent brings out my desire to get decorating (actually my husband’s), January brings the desire to take down the bling. All that work and enjoyment of curating our arrangements of festive decor has come to an end.

We love our festive bling! The lights and bright colours are uplifting and fun. Young and old love touring the light displays along our streets and in our downtowns The displays are entertaining, dazzling and magical. Until January.

I can get tired of dazzle. Can you feel dazzled out?

It feels good to pack away all the Christmas bling. Stacking the boxes back into their assigned storage space until next year. Dusting and vacuuming, bringing back in the furniture that was displaced and then resting from a job well done. The house is back to its status quo. Hurray, but! This is the moment we realize that everything looks SO bare. Big sigh. No bright red bows. No Christmas tree lights tinkling.

Our front yards and local neighbourhood streets look a little darker. The city centers look abandoned of people strolling along the once lighted sidewalks. Everything that once dazzled us looks SO bare.  

Looking out my house windows, in January, it looks like God has done the same thing. During my early December frenzy to get my bling up God was busy taking nature’s bling down. The spectacular fall splendor has dispersed with the winds. The little crab apples and berries have been nipped away by the birds or squirrels. The faithful robin, that can miraculously time the seasons perfectly, have left us. December has fled and we our greeted with January.

How exactly does January greet us? Perhaps for some, they are greeted with a plane ticket south. For many of us we are greeted with wind chills that force our heads down, crack our lips and freeze our breath. Plus the bare house! It makes you wonder sometimes why we put away the December bling?

The bigger wonder I have, is why does God take away the dazzle? Have you ever thought of that? Why can’t there be a winter hummingbird? How about a thriving winter rose bush? Ah, but there is not!

As we nurse our chapped lips, sad because of our lack of light and sun and our bodies busy detoxing from all the sugar, January can certainly appear very bare to us. God has made January look bare for us but God did not make this month barren.

The hummingbirds are south fattening themselves up to visit us again. The rose bushes are tucked asleep to bloom again. The January snow accumulates to provide spring melts for the farm fields. The slowly returning sun warms the bark on the trees sparking the roots into production of sweet sap.

January can also offer us rest and renewal. We do not live on bling alone. I do need to take time to bare my soul and invite rest in. I need to continually light the Christmas Christ candle through the dark winter as it offers me rest and hope. This light, this flame, like the return of the sun for trees, also sparks my roots and spirit.

God never takes down the bling, it just changes. God always has a way to dazzle me. Life, at times, may look pretty bare but it is never barren. God shows us that with the month of January!  

Laurel is retired and likes to spend her time in her art studio. 

(Illustration: Laurel Pattenden. JOY, LOVE, HOPE)