I love Christmas. It’s my favorite holiday, taking place in one of my favorite seasons and a celebration of my Savior I love – Jesus! Boxes of decorations can make even the homeliest of Charlie Brown Christmas trees look like beautiful creations. Glittered gluey papers made with earnest determination of little hands are placed in special spots, to be admired in those initial instances and to be enjoyed for years of memories. Picking out presents for those we love and taking great joy in the giving is, for me, right up there with seeing the wonder of any child-hearted person as they glimpse something in a triangular dark green evergreen, white twinkle lights and spun glass bulbs. As a lover of Christmas trees, and a collector of them in all shapes and sizes, I sit here tonight in the light of white twinkly lights wrapped around the alpine trees and think about Christmas.
The beauty of the decorations, the fun of the giving, the family gatherings and plans they are all good and worthwhile to have. But this week, as I looked at all there is to be done and needs to be done and what is left that will probably not get done, I felt the stress mount quickly. It’s all good things, things I want to do. But how do I do it all? Where do I find the time? Can I have an elf of my own for the holidays? I would gladly pay in cookies and milk! As I was looking at my to-do-list, these were the thoughts that whirled in my mind as I was looking at my to-do list and the calendar and feeling the stress rising. And then, a thought struck me – kind of like the bracing taste of water after a candy cane - Don’t Miss Christmas!
Christmas, with beautiful decorations, gatherings and season plans that hang like ornamental accoutrements of festivity, is really not about those trimmings and is definitely not to be missed in its purest form. It is the cry of a new parent’s heart who looks at this much loved baby with great hope, wonder and the weight of a new kind of responsibility. It is the quiet joy of arms carefully embracing a little swaddled figure, just pausing to watch him breathe. It is the excitement of shepherds receiving the announcement of angels, the fear and wondering at beholding the heavenly host as they proclaim great joy. Christmas is the largeness of history and the smallness of the family home. Christmas is that kind of joy, even in the midst of wrapping paper, memories that make me teary, and being ready to post a help wanted sign for an elf helper. Tomorrow will be a new day and I’m looking forward to making cookies, running errands and writing a few more cards. But I will be taking a moment then and more afterwards to remember Christmas, the wonder and the majesty, the mystery and the hope, the loudness and the quietness. More than anything I will seek Christmas and not lose it in the wrapping paper.
The thing about Christmas is that it is just the beginning of the story. It is a story of truth that speaks of love. Real love – love that is perfect and whole, a love we cannot quantify or qualify. Yes, I will get teary at seeing my great grandmother’s nativity, I will still add the toppers to the Christmas trees, and address more Christmas cards. But, more than anything I will seek Christmas and not lose it in the wrapping paper.