Holiday Centerpieces

What’s the “CENTERPIECE” of your holiday?

In the world of interior design a centerpiece is an object of beauty which captures your eye. It heralds your attention and elicits Ooh’s and Ah-h’s! It creates a point of FOCUS. Let’s jump out of the world of interior design and consider a different type of centerpiece: the “centerpiece of our thoughts” in this season?

What is the current centerpiece of your thoughts? Choose one or two that capture your main focus:

  1. Household… Getting a tree, Decorating the house, Finding just the right gifts, Holiday cooking
  2. Emotions… How to deal with grief or depression during holidays,
  3. Endurance… Extra Work Demands…Extra Cooking or Cleaning…Traveling Demands…Physical challenges…Care giving demands
  4. Expectations… of “Extra Grace Required” Relatives, Spouse, or blended Families… Expectations of God…
  5. Finances… Paying for Gifts…or Frustrated at not being able to afford gifts…Worry over job situation
  6. Self… Trying to not eat too much… Outfits for all the parties and functions, Knowing how to respond gracefully to invitations or additional church functions

None of the above…. The current centerpiece of my holiday reflections is:__________________________

It’s tough to center our focus on silent nights and peace on earth, when seasonal expectations glitter like gemstones… Or when grief torpedoes our heart…and it’s time to face the Christmas music! Most of us can relate to the little boy in a Sunday school class who was asked to identify a drawing. He declared: “It looks like a squirrel, but I guess the right answer is Jesus.”

How can we “Shift Our Focus” and choose new “Centerpieces” to focus upon this season? Since Christmas is centered upon a child, what if we observe a few children and see how they can help us adults shift our focus? Let’s peek in on a preschool class on Stanford University’s campus where groups of fabulous four-year- olds are staring at a “centerpiece of marshmallows”!

These groups of preschoolers, mostly children of Stanford University’s faculty were participating in a study by psychologist Walter Mischel. He wanted to study their ability to resist temptation and choose what they focused on. The experimenter placed two marshmallows front and center before each child. He then made a proposal to the kids:

He was going to leave the room to run an errand. If they could wait for him to return they could have two marshmallows. If they were not able to wait they could have only one-but they could have it right then and there.

Some of the kids were unable to resist the “centerpiece of marshmallows”. Upon seconds of the experimenter’s leaving the room they immediately grabbed their one marshmallow and gobbled it up! The other kids waited for what must have seemed a never-ending fifteen to twenty minutes for the experimenter to return. Meanwhile they shifted their focus from the “marshmallow centerpiece” by:


Covering their eyes

Resting their head in their arms

Playing games with their hands and feet

Several tried to sleep

When the experimenter returned, this group of kids got two marshmallows.

This study, which began in 1960, followed these kids throughout high-school. The emotional and social difference between the grab-the-marshmallow preschoolers and their gratification-delaying peers was remarkable. Those who were able to shift their focus at age four were as teenagers, more: personally effective, self-assertive, and confident. They were less likely to go to pieces, retreat under stress, or become rattled and disorganized when pressured. They embraced challenges and pursued them instead of giving up even in the face of difficulties. They were self-reliant, trustworthy, dependable, and better able to deal with life’s frustrations.

These plucky preschoolers teach us great ways to shift our focus. As the events and celebrations of the holidays begin to unfold, it seems there is always a “marshmallow centerpiece” of sorts staring us in the face. Yup…marshmallows are popping up everywhere. So I propose the question:

What’s Your Marshmallow?

In other words, who or what is tempting you to lose your resolve, your confidence, your peace, your joy-in this holiday season? This is simply another way of asking what your holiday centerpiece is!

Need a shift in focus?


Visual Centerpieces: Manger Scene…What a great centerpiece. Or replace current photographs you have sitting about with new and different photos… happy ones. (Photos that pull out the smiles in you!) Place them…in the kitchen, family room, and bedroom.

Memory Centerpiece: If you’re in the midst of grieving for a loved one, create a memory centerpiece in their honor. One of my friends’ whose husband passed away had a patchwork bear made from her husband’s favorite shirts and ties. Another friend whose father passed away had his wedding ring cut in half. A jeweler took each half and fashioned it into a pendant. She and her sister each wear a piece of their Father’s wedding ring.

**And remember, when holidays usher in tears for your loved ones; you never have to apologize for these. They are a grand testimony to the depth of love you forever hold in your heart.

Child in You Centerpiece: This holiday season; when you’re temped to COMPLAIN or swing into STRESS; let out the child in you. Sing out loud. Dance. Skip around the house or mall. Play games. Paint. Dress in happy colors. Or visit the local hospital and spend time with children. Take a cue from children’s author: Dr. Seuss…

“You’ll be on your way up! You’ll be seeing great sights! You’ll join the high fliers Who soar to high heights.”

Centerpiece of Forgiveness: “Some people find fault like there’s a reward for it…” Zig Ziglar. Those “extra grace required” people in our lives are not likely to change. For a happier, healthier holiday, we can follow the advice of Caroline Leaf, PhD. and prayerfully journal negative thoughts and emotions. Forgiveness makes for a great centerpiece.

Remember, in the world of interior design, a “centerpiece” is an object of beauty which captures your eye. It heralds your attention and elicits Ooh’s and Ah-h’s! It creates a point of FOCUS.

We have jumped out of the world of interior design and considered a different type of centerpiece: a centerpiece designed to create a shift in our thoughts. These new centerpieces are an influential balancing tool. They will mightily assist us in creating happier, healthier, and more balanced holidays.

Authentic peace and joy-are a gift of the season, ready and waiting for those willing to create new centerpieces. Only then can we focus unwaveringly on the one who is the true holiday centerpiece.

“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you” Isaiah 26:3 (NIV)

Libba Narron Lewey

©2009 Libba Narron Lewey (All rights reserved worldwide)

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Libba Narron Lewey is an Interior Designer with 27+years experience. Author and Lifestyle Coach Expert, Libba enjoys helping women stay organized, fit for time, and surround themselves with beauty in home and daily life!

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