I can’t believe it’s so close to Christmas. Talk about time flying. Usually, its somewhere around this time of year that I, and probably some of you, start to think; hey it doesn’t seem much like Christmas. Often, I don’t think we even know what it is that we are looking for. Or, exactly what it is, that it seems we are missing.
If I asked a bunch of people what the Christmas spirit feels like, we would all have different answers. I think partly it would depend on when and where we grew up. Or how we celebrated Christmas as a child. Maybe what we enjoyed about Christmas or any happy memories we might have.
If you grew up where there was snow you might think; it doesn’t feel like Christmas if there is no snow on the ground. Or, we think, we just need to get the tree, and put up the lights. Or listen to carols, make cookies, drink hot chocolate, see Santa, go to the mall or all those things we think we have to do, for it to feel like Christmas. Sometimes, even when we have all those things; it still feels like something is missing.
I don’t have all the answers. Often I think we are trying to recreate something that can never be re-created. We have changed. Circumstances have changed. We can’t go back in time to what we remember.
I think the Christmas spirit is more a heart thing. I don’t have a lot of vivid Christmas memories from when I was young. And I know that all our Christmas’s were not perfect. There was stress on my parents back then, just like there is stress on all of us now.
When I do think about Christmas, and the feeling of Christmas when I was growing up, there are a few memories that stand out. My dad reading to us on Christmas Eve. My grandmothers coming to Christmas dinner. Walking to the drugstore one dark snowy night to get a Christmas gift for my parents. The crunching snow, the feel and smell of the air. Visiting relatives. Standing outside my grandmothers house one cold snowy Christmas eve. Looking at her lights and the stars and just sensing the presence of God-though I doubt I even knew what it was at that time in my life.
We were not wealthy. We didn’t receive huge amounts of gifts. Maybe a couple of toys, some clothes, and a stocking of course. It wasn’t the gifts, or the amount of money that was spent. It wasn’t that we went all out decorating like Chevy Chase on Christmas Vacation. In fact, I don’t recall ever even using outdoor lights. It wasn’t extravagant parties. It was family and friends taking time to spend time together. It seemed like a much simpler time. Easier to find that Christmas spirit. Maybe we just remember things that way. Maybe my parents if I could ask them, would disagree and say it was too busy of a time for them too.
All these things that we work so hard to get done, gifts that we buy and wrap and send, are all so fleeting. We likely won’t even remember most of it next year. Maybe we could just take some time to slow down, and just pay attention to what’s around us. Give someone a hug. Take a long walk. Do something for someone in need. Play with a child. Put away our watch and our cell phones and tablets and just….live. Seek God. Thank Him daily and often. Sing carols at the top of our lungs just because we can. Look at Christmas through the eyes of a child. With wonder, and excitement.
Maybe, just maybe, if we do that, when we aren’t looking, we might find ourselves enjoying this time and truly celebrating Christmas. No matter whether it fits our preconceived ideas of how it should be, or not.
Ask your parents, or your grandparents, or older children if you have them, what their favorite Christmas memories are. Though some of it may be special gifts that they received, chances are many of them will say the same things I did. Special times with those we hold dear.
There’s really only one thing we need to have joy at Christmas. Luke 2: 10-12: “ Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”