Christmas weekend is upon us. After weeks of shopping, baking, and parties, this weekend is, for me, one of quiet reflection and family. From Thanksgiving on, we all work so diligently to make Christmas perfect. We decorate our homes, search for just the right gifts for everyone, bake our families’ traditional favorites, celebrate the season with parties and gatherings with friends, and exhaust ourselves trying to make Christmas “measure up” to our families’ memories.
From the time our children are very young, we share the traditions of Santa Claus, Elf on a Shelf, and Advent Calendars. We want to give them the very best of Christmas memories. We adorn the Christmas tree as a family, placing everyone’s own treasured decorations carefully on the tree. We attend their school concerts and plays, and their church pageants. We buy them the gifts they long for, as they gaze wide-eyed on Christmas morning.
Before we know it, these little children are grown and we are looking at the bright, expectant faces of our grandchildren at Christmastime, and happily watching their Christmas pageants. Once again, we love to see the sparkle in their eyes at this special time of year. How wonderful to experience Christmas through the eyes of a child we love.
As I have grown older and have less money and energy, I have scaled down my gift giving and shopping. I no longer cook Christmas dinner for our large family as I used to, but have passed the torch on. This year we will all be having dinner at my nephew’s house. Last weekend my sister-in-law gathered a larger group of family at her beautifully decorated home — how much fun it was to catch up with each others’ lives and enjoy the little ones. Next year, the Lord willing, we will have four more new babies to celebrate as we all gather.
And now, Christmas weekend is upon us. A light snow fell today, covering the barren ground with white, and tonight the Christmas lights and candles in our neighborhood are reflected in the freshly fallen snow. Tomorrow I will wrap the few gifts that I can give now, and perhaps take a drive in the evening to enjoy the beauty of the decorations in other neighborhoods. The highlight for me on Christmas Eve is always the candlelight service at church, sitting with loved ones to sing carols, and passing lit candles to each other as the church fills with my favorite, “Silent Night.” My heart feels Mary holding her precious new baby in that little stable as we sing in the light of the candles.
And then Christmas Day will be here, and my family will be gathered at my nephew’s home for dinner. I will give thanks for our celebration of this special holiday, and for the family members sitting at the table, especially my new great-grandson born in August. I will pray that next Christmas we will be blessed with the presence of my new great-nephew to be born in April, and the twins my daughter is carrying, who are due in late May. I will watch the faces of my children and grandchildren and listen to their voices, and give thanks for the gift of family — both those who sit at the table and those who are no longer with us, but whose spirits will remain with us always. And I will be grateful for all of the blessings I have been given in this life —
Wishing you all a peaceful and joyful Christmas in the company of those you love —