Revisiting the colors of Christmas: Gold

I hope your Christmas was wonderful. You may still be visiting family, or still cleaning up Christmas bows and boxes, or dealing with post-Christmas blues, or maybe you’re traveling home today. Wherever today finds you, I hope it’s a golden day for you.

The light this time of year seems especially magical, and I love to take in winter’s golden sunsets, just like yesterday’s:

Today’s post revisits the color gold: golden stars, gold haloes, gifts of gold. I hope you enjoy reading it.

Merry Christmas! I hope you’re enjoying time with your family and friends, as well as taking time to ponder the great gift of Christ’s birth and promise of His return. Continue reading

Revisiting the colors of Christmas: red

During this busy season, I’m revisiting a favorite Christmas series from 2012. I love Christmas decorations, and it seems even the most mundane everyday objects are trying to put on their Christmas finery these days:

A fire hydrant dresses in its Christmas best.

Even trees by the river are getting decked out for the season (with a little help from a Christmas fan). My husband usually spots these first, and I turn giddy when I hear these outdoor decorations have gone up for the year. Continue reading

Christmas gifts

Ah, Christmas. Another one has come and gone. You’ve opened your presents (perhaps already returning one or two). If you hosted Christmas at your home, your refrigerator is probably starting to have some space in it again, though your freezer may still be stuffed.

Some of you may have taken down your Christmas decorations and packed them away until next year, ready to be done with the holidays. Removing decorations at our house often depends on my husband’s schedule, but I love to leave them up until Three Kings Day/Epiphany.

The book of Matthew tells us of one more party after Christ’s birth, one last hurrah, before things got really tough for Jesus and Mary and Joseph (and for their neighbors, too). The story centers on the arrival of the magi.

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship him.” … and the star, which they had seen in the east, went on before them until it came and stood over the place where the Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. After coming into the house they saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell to the ground and worshiped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. — Matthew 2:1-2, 9-11

When we think of the magi, we envision kings and crowns and camels and three presents, and that’s often how nativity scenes depict them.

A small percentage of you chose the wisemen as your favorite figures in the nativity, and I, too, love the kings and camels in my own nativity set. (You can see the kings and one of the camels in a post from three years ago here.) Several of my favorite Christmas decorations center on the three kings: Continue reading

Defying gravity

I’ve been thinking about gravity a lot lately. I’m finished with physical therapy for the injury that kept me from running for many months, but during many of my sessions, I got to run on an AlterG Anti-Gravity treadmill.

This high-tech treadmill lets you choose to run with as little as 20 percent of your body weight, all the way back up to 100 percent. When you run on this machine, until you set it back up to 100 percent, you are defying gravity.

During one of my last sessions, after I’d already graduated back to a regular treadmill, my physical therapist showed me a video of a blind runner using the AlterG. It was the first time he had been able to run on a treadmill without holding on with his hands. As he swung his arms back and forth, he exclaimed, “Oh, wow. Oh, wow. This is amazing.”

There are parts of the Advent story that defy gravity, too, just a different sort of gravity. Mary ignored the gravity of her situation and agreed to become a mother out of wedlock. Joseph ignored the gravity of staying betrothed to a pregnant woman and instead believed an angel telling him to stay with her. Together, they and Jesus (and one might argue everyone else in Bethlehem, too) defied the gravity of His birth, and a simple stable became the birthplace of the King of kings.

One of my readers responded this way to last week’s poll about favorite nativity figures: “The whole thing! A stable as the birthplace of the Son of God! How absurdly wonderful!”


The season of Advent challenges our ideas of where kings should be born, and Jesus’ entire life and ministry was meant to challenge our assumptions about God and faith. My reader is right: it’s absurd and wonderful. Continue reading

The colors of Christmas: purple

For many of you, Christmas may be over. Perhaps you’ve already packed away your decorations, and the tree is out on the street waiting for the garbage men to collect. But for others, Christmas won’t be over until January 6, the day of Epiphany or Three Kings Day. This traditional 12th day of Christmas is a celebration of the magi visiting Jesus in Bethlehem, and for cultures who celebrate it, decorations won’t come down until then.

So in honor of Epiphany, I hope you won’t mind one last post in the colors of Christmas series. This week’s color is purple, and I have my friend Anna to thank for inspiring me to add it to the colors of Christmas. Early in December, she and I met for lunch, and she told me about decorating her tree with purple ribbon, despite her family’s skepticism. When I told her about the blog series, she asked (somewhat hopefully) if purple would be one of the colors. “After all,” she reminded me, “purple is the color of Advent.” She’s right, you know.

In many churches, the color of Advent is purple. You’ll often see purple candles in Advent wreaths and purple cloth draping altars and pulpits during the season leading up to Christmas. It’s not even that unusual to find purple Christmas ornaments these days.

A purple-winged peacock sits on my Christmas tree.

A purple-winged peacock sits on my Christmas tree.

But why is purple so closely associated with the season of Christmas? For two reasons: purple represents penance and also represents royalty. Penance will come into more focus during the season of Lent that leads us into Easter, but Advent is also supposed to be a time when we repent of our sins as we focus on the coming of the Christ child, the king of kings.


Two of the three kings in my nativity set are clothed in purple. I especially love the crown of the one in the foreground, with alternating stripes of lavender and purple.

So in honor of Christ the king and the royalty whose visit we celebrate with Epiphany, let us embrace purple as a color of Christmas. And as Epiphany comes and leads us toward the season of Lent, may the color purple remind us of the reasons Christ calls us to repent of sins and continue to stay alert for His coming.

I’m going to leave you with another brain puzzler today, this time from a purple card from the set that came in my stocking for Christmas. There’s a message hidden in what appears to be a flower below. Can you find it?


You’ll find this fun card and others like it at

Once you think you have the answer, please post it in the comments below (don’t peek at the comments before you’ve given yourself a little time to figure out the message).

In last week’s post where I included a yellow card like this one, I promised a link to the very cool website where you can find these cards and more things to inspire and motivate you. Again, don’t peek until you’ve tried to figure out the message above, but here’s the site: Visit the site’s About page for a fun, inspirational poem to get your new year off to a great start.

I’ll leave you today by wishing you a happy New Year. I’m grateful to you, my readers, and I look forward to hearing what wonderful adventures God has planned for you in the year ahead.