Since our family was conducting the great Christmas tree experiment of 2009, I took a keen interest in the times that houses in our neighborhood took down their outside lights and decorations.
There are those who seem to take them down on Christmas Day. Others leave them up Christmas Day, but they are down first thing in the morning the day after. Some leave them up until New Year's Day, and others just kind of come down here and there during the next few weeks. We have a few, who never take the lights off of their houses. They do stop turning them on at night, but they leave them up all year long.
When I'm out running the mornings, I get to observe all these different houses and guess at who might live there and what kind of people they might be.
But there is this one house that I run past 3 times on my route. It is March 3, and they still have all of their Christmas decorations up outside. I'm not talking about some lights around the roof line, or a snowman in the yard. These people have a beautiful display in their front yard. They have a wire-framed, lighted deer with a velvet collar with bells on it, that is harnessed to a sleigh in which sits a beautiful doll wrapped in a wintry blanket and wearing a white fur coat and matching hat. She holds the reigns in her hands. They have lights on the house, and they have an old fashioned lamppost that is wrapped with red ribbon and decorated with pine cones and poinsettias. They even have two pots at the end of their driveway with silk poinsettias in them.
There was one morning a few weeks ago that I was out running in some lovely drizzling rain, and I really wanted to get a rain coat and hat to put on that doll. She looked like she needed it, and I thought it would be funny at the same time.
But I find myself wondering more and more why they haven't taken down their decorations. When that beautiful doll was getting rained on, I really started to wonder. It seemed like they would at least come and get her out of the weather...unless there was another reason why they were leaving the decorations up so long.
So I began to look for signs that something might be wrong, but everything seemed to be okay. Their cars were coming and going just like normal. But I did notice one thing.
I noticed that among the Christmas decorations, there were also yellow ribbons and American flags. I'm guessing these people have a soldier, or a sailor, or an airman, or a marine out there somewhere. And that got me wondering if maybe, just maybe they were keeping up their Christmas decorations because they were waiting for that soldier, sailor, airman, or marine to return home to celebrate the holiday with them.
Obviously, there is no way for me to know why (unless I just knocked on the door and asked, but that is NOT likely to happen), but I now find myself praying for them every time I pass their house. I pray for a safe return for anyone they may be waiting for. I pray for peace in the household. And I pray for blessing on them in whatever they may be going through...
...and I watch their house and wait to see just how long those decorations will stay up.