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There are those who savor Christmas long after December 25 has come and gone. They continue to enjoy the glow of the Christmas tree and associated decorations which help us to celebrate this most holy of seasons.

I am not one of these people.

Perhaps it has to do with bittersweet memories of Christmases past, maybe it has to do with my living room looking like war-torn Beirut—littered with boxes, bags, paper and forgotten gifts that have yet to find a proper place. Maybe a combination of both. Whatever the reason, by December 27, I’m ready to put it all away and prepare for a new year and a fresh start.

Today I was boxing up the final remnants of the indoor decorations, a porcelain, rather large nativity scene which occupies the surface of a hutch in our formal living room. When I retrieved the box marked “Nativity – Fragile”, I remembered I had put the silver and pewter pieces which occupy this space 11 months out of the year into said box.

As I was putting the pieces back to their rightful place, I noticed the silver candlesticks were very tarnished. And since this is a time for fresh starts, I could not in good conscious put them back without a proper cleaning.

As I began to clean the first candlestick, a couple of things occurred to me. First, the top portion of the candlestick is covered by a glass shade. If I only cleaned the parts that were showing no one else would notice. Next, the tarnish was significant, probably because they mostly go unused and unnoticed.

I began to clean from the bottom up. I was tempted to clean only the parts that would show (Did I mention that I hate cleaning silver?), but the cleaning became cathartic.

I thought about all the tarnish in our lives. Many of us are sure to keep the parts the world sees shiny and presentable. But what of those parts we don’t show the rest of the world? The parts only God can see? Surely He is worthy of a clean heart and a renewed, shining spirit. And perhaps if I pay more attention throughout the year, cleaning away the tarnish won’t be such a laborious task.

I ask that you indulge me one more analogy. As I placed the candlesticks back on the hutch, I decided to light the tea lights the candlesticks held.

The result of the endeavor was this:

The light shined brightest from those places unseen.