My 15-year-old daughter has leadership gifts. While I recognize this is a God-given talent—and He has plans for her that will incorporate these amazing skills—I also confess I am the father to that gifted teenage girl, and sometimes we don’t exactly see things the same way. (Insert plea for wisdom, prayer, and patience here).

And that brings us to the holiday season. Family and friends experience food, gatherings, and exchanges of presents. There are thousands of decisions to be made and nearly all of them feel important. Everything from the way to set the table to the choice of wrapping paper seems like a choice that reflects how much you care about the people around you. So when my teenage daughter (did I mention she was 15?) announced that she was going to take the lead in our Christmas decorating this year, my wife and I exchanged glances. We both knew we wanted a huddle to discuss this, but this moment caught us off guard. We already had a system to dig out the decorations from the attic and put them up with minimal mess and minimal cost. But at that very moment, the game clock was running, and we didn’t have a timeout to spare. We had to decide to hold on to our control, or call an audible. I’d still like to be able to replay my response in slow motion as my mouth formed two syllables: “Ooooooooh . . . kayyyyyyyy. . . .”

And with that word spoken, my daughter sprang into action. She was released to exercise her creative gifts. She was free to take the reins (move over Santa) and guide us through the fog of Christmas decorating.  

After some assessment of our current stock of Christmas décor, and our supply of crafting materials, she made an announcement. Our decorating theme this year will be: “Rustic.”  And before we could ask, “How rustic?”  “What kind of rustic?” or “Should I start building a stable?” she was off. 

Our home was immediately strewn with barn wood, pine cones, rusty sleigh bells, brown paper bags, and burlap. Lots of burlap. 

It’s been a couple of days now. Our house looks amazing. The pallet wood centerpiece with candles in mason jars looks amazing. The burlap stockings sewn by my wife to the specifications set by our daughter set the style bar much higher than burlap has ever aspired to before. Our tree rests in a homey and southern galvanized tub in the corner. Presents wrapped in hand stamped brown paper and twine are beginning to appear.

I can’t wait to see what is next. I can’t wait for the next time she asks me to help her tear apart a pallet, or bend some copper wire, or hang a shelf in the right spot. It’s her vision and we never could have experienced it fully unless she had felt empowered enough to try it. 

This season, I’m want to give my family more gifts of freedom and encouragement. I want each of them to use their talents, abilities and imaginations to the fullest, because it’s the way we can best serve each other. 

I could probably have come up with a hundred reasons to curb my daughter’s unique enthusiasm for our house this year, but when I think of all I would have missed experiencing with her . . . well, maybe part of peace on earth is experiencing the humility of setting aside my comfort level for a moment.

Oh, that reminds me, I have to put a light on the baby in the rustic manger