At Maulhall there is an ongoing battle to keep the house in order. Of course, it would help if both the children and the adults used the same definition of “shipshape.”

It is fortunate that we entertain as often as we do. There’s nothing like the specter of guests arriving to provoke a quick shakedown. “I don’t know how you do it,” they always gush, “your home always looks so beautiful.”

During a recent blitz one of us caught sight of an erstwhile Christmas decoration. It was an angel, hanging gracefully from the dinning room chandelier. Somehow he had avoided previous roundups, but this time he was caught out in the open, scooped up and unceremoniously dumped into a cardboard box marked “Christmas.”

As I placed the box in the garage I felt like the “Holiday Goon Squad,” dedicated to eradicating any remaining evidence of goodwill! And I wondered about how we likewise pack up everything to do with December grace and magic, parking it all securely in some dark place till next year.

As if good will and generosity only count during Christmas!

December thoughtfulness doesn’t nearly cover the tremendous sin of our ongoing indifference. Just one week before Christmas I caught two separate news briefs on the same day: Personal spending increased, but charitable contributions went down. What’s up with that?

Well, we got the house clean for our guests, we always do. When we were finished we looked around and realized how incredibly blessed we are, how amazingly rich. Rich in things, yes, but rich in family too, rich in love, rich in devotion. The affection, the peace, and the generosity that live in our home overwhelm me at times, and I am so grateful for everything that we can enjoy.

So I went back into the garage and rescued our adventurous angel. After all, he had held out for so long. More importantly, he is a cogent reminder of the holiday spirit that should never be packed away, taped up and stored in a dark place. What did Jesus say?… “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.”


Copyright © 2003 Derek Maul, Sunbelt papers. Used with permission.

Derek Maul feels that his life has always been richly blessed and full of grace. He and his wife Rebekah enjoy a positive and challenging family life with their two teenage children – Andrew and Naomi – and several furry animals. Derek publishes a weekly column in several Tampa papers and also writes for the Tampa Tribune – in addition to several Christian publications throughout the country. Visit Derek at

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