I love the Christmas season. I am sorry to see it end so quickly. As I enjoyed the sights and sounds and smells of this glorious time, I remembered all of the Christmases that I have known.
As a child, the magic of Christmas emerged from the basement and took residence in our home once again, as we hung our stockings, trimmed our tree and set up the manger scene. I would study the solemn cast of characters in the small wooden stable all covered with moss. I would lie under our artificial tree, looking up through the branches at the multicolored lights and soak in the wonder of it all. We would attend our Quaker Meeting’s yearly tradition; a potluck dinner (with an entire room full of desserts) followed by a carol sing and candlelight service.
I would sit on a bench in that meeting room surrounded by the scent of evergreen branches and the flickering, golden light. I would listen to the members of the congregation read the Christmas story from the Bible. The words sounded so beautiful and sacred to me.
I remember the Christmases of my teenage years. I had a small group of friends who were all very talented singers. I could sing a melody clear and true. My friends could harmonize any song in the most beautiful way. We began a tradition of gathering at my house and then venturing out into the cold to sing carols to my neighbors. The most beautiful music I have ever heard was made by our voices lifted into the frosty night air. I felt so blessed to be a part of that wonderful sound of praise. I have not been able to make such beautiful melodies matched with such lovely harmonies since that season, and I miss it, especially at Christmas. I console myself with the thought that someday heaven will be filled with music like that all the time!
I think back to our very first Christmas as a married couple. We were excited to have some family and friends over to our very first place for Christmas dinner. It was only a tiny apartment with no real furniture, but it was ours. We got a little tree and decorated it with the set of tiny, wooden ornaments that my grandmother had given us…our only ornaments!
Those precious little things have since gone into hiding, being choking hazards and not suitable for a house perpetually inhabited by at least one baby and one toddler. But that Christmas, there were no babies yet. I wanted to make some dessert for our dinner, yet I hadn’t planned ahead. I had only flour, sugar, and some Hershey Kisses. I made a trip to the closest gas station (the only place open on Christmas morning) and made some short bread. That evening, everyone piled into our small kitchen to eat around card tables, and it seemed a very joyous occasion.
I remember Christmases with little ones. It was hard to keep the ornaments on the tree, and the wrapping paper was much more appreciated than the gifts themselves. I remember the 7 Christmases that I was pregnant. I wasn’t feeling very good during most of those, and didn’t care if we even put up a tree. But I still enjoyed the joy and excitement in those little faces.
One of our children was conceived over the Christmas holiday. What a precious gift! The baby was a boy, and all our boys have names that begin with the letter “C.” Chris and I joked that we should name him, Colorado Christmas Conception. We decided to go with Chai Erik instead!
This year was a lovely Christmas. I was pregnant but feeling very good!
We had our 8th annual Christmas party with a house full of friends and caroling around the neighbor hood.
We attended the candlelight service at our church and felt that holiness again. On Christmas morning our house was full of two parents, one grandmother, teenagers, preteens, children, and a toddler.
We had a little of everything from toys to video games,
from big helpers to little messer-uppers.
A glorious chaos of noise and joy,
frustration and love!
I wanted to soak in every detail of the present Christmas, as I knew it would never come around again.
The teenagers will be thinking about college. The preteens will become teens. The younger ones will grow into more mature ones.
We will get older and wiser and never be quite the same people we are right now. Only God knows what each new Christmas will bring. My vision of Christmas future is a huge dining room table surrounded by my children, their spouses, and their children; my grandchildren! There could end up being quite a lot of them…perhaps 10, 20, 30, or more!
Looking back over all the Christmas seasons of my life there is a common thread. Always there is Jesus, lying in the manger; whether he is small or large,
made from wood or ceramic,
set up high on a self or cradled in the arms of a child.
Jesus is always there. Yet the baby Jesus is just a symbol…a symbol of God’s amazing, crazy, unfathomable love!
Jesus is a baby so longer. He grew and became a man. He pleased his Father in every way. He was obedient in everything, even obedient to die on a cross. He was revealed as the Lamb that was slain before the foundations of the world. He decided to die for us before any of us were even here. He set us free to enjoy all the wonderment and joy that the human heart can possess!
Yet looking back, I also see him as a Lion. The Lion of the Tribe of Judah, always at my side, whether I knew He was there or not. A strong and ferocious kind of God; violent in dealing with my enemies and fears and doubts, unrelenting in His jealousy for me, bold and courageous in the ways He loves me, yet soft and gentle when He draws me near. That Lion was always with me; during the innocent years of childlike faith when I would talk to Him every night before falling asleep. During the cynical early teenage years when I sat in that candlelight service and thought how foolish someone must be to believe that a baby born in Bethlehem was actually God. During my last years in High School, discovering the wonder of a real God who loved me just as I was. During my young married years when I didn’t know very much about anything. During all of the pregnancies and births and babies and toddlers and growing and learning and sorrows and joys. Jesus was there!
The Great I AM limited Himself to the smallness and helplessness of a baby just so He could always and forever BE WITH US! May we never get over the miracle of Christmas; that the Lion and the Lamb, the Almighty God IS WITH US! And we can spend eternity exploring the height and depth and breadth of His great love for us.