My hubby and I went away on a last-minute trip last week, and I had yet to put a single holiday decoration up… not even a tree.

When we returned late Sunday night, I saw candles in the windows and knew something was up. We walked into the house to a fully decorated great room, Christmas lights, incense burning, and a warm fire in the fireplace.

Oh, the love
Oh, the joy
Oh, the Christmas spirit

(And, oh, that’s why my kids asked what time we were arriving back home several times!)

My heart melted into yet another unforeseen perk of these big kid years: when the acts of love and service we do for our family circle back around.

I told my daughter I still hadn’t decorated before we left, and because she loves to come home to a cozy, Christmasy home, she decided to step into the role for me. So, she, her loving partner, and my middle son snuck over to our house last Sunday and selflessly set everything up for the big surprise.

2021 will go down as one of my favorite years as far as decorations go because so much love and intention went into the process. Not to mention, all three of them were very creative in arranging the annual décor in fresh and appealing ways.

Mommas, we spend a lot of time worrying if we are doing things right when raising our kids. We doubt, question, and lay awake at night wondering about our enoughness. Too often we drink from the cup of guilt for our mistakes instead of trusting that we are doing our very best with what we know.

At the end of the day, most of the things we stress over never materialize beyond our imagination. Most things work out in the end. And it’s moments like these when our kids become independent adults and perform these simple acts of love, that prove it.

As for my kid’s note about getting the “real’ tree together, I must confess, we never did! There was only one weekend available to go and it was cold and rainy. So, for the first time ever, we didn’t have a real Christmas tree for the holiday and instead just rolled with our 3′ artificial Charlie Brown tree. And guess what? Christmas wasn’t a bust! LOL

The ONLY thing that matters to me at all in this life is having my kids and those I love around me. Decorations are great, but real people and real memories are better. Now that our kids are all in their mid to upper 20s, quality time with them is the greatest gift in the world.


Shelby is a self-described “sappy soul whisperer and sarcasm aficionado” who has a deep love for Jesus and storytelling. She is a wife of 28 years and a momma of three 20-something kiddos. As a freelance writer and author, you can find her words in the national publication, Guideposts, and all over the web at places like Her View From Home, Today, Parenting Teens & Tweens, Love What Matters, Scary Mommy, and others. Shelby also has a new online mothering course called, Mindful Mothering: When You Change the Way You Look at Things, the Things You Look at Change, and she blogs over at