Many a message has been spread about seeking the true meaning of Christmas which most know has nothing to do with Black Friday, piles of packages under a tree, or the overeating that comes with holiday gatherings. Each year, I come up with a plan to finish my shopping early so I can lead my family towards the real reason for the season. As the days pass and Christmas quickly approaches, my shopping is still not complete and the many Christmas events I’ve attended still leave me searching for that one clear moment where I can look my children in their eyes and say, "Yes! This is Christmas." But, it doesn’t come. It’s never that clear to me. And sometimes, it comes with a heaviness of failing to make things perfect. Perhaps I’m waiting for a bright star overhead to lead me to a place that I can’t find on Google maps. Christmas day will soon pass and as I collapse on my couch in a living room full of torn wrapping paper and empty boxes, I’ll fault myself for never showing my kids that clear moment that I believe is Christmas.
Maybe Christmas is more than just a single event, place, or time. As I woke this morning knowing that my family was all home under one roof, my heart filled with joy. As I saw the empty cups and plates on the kitchen counter, I knew that the night before had been filled with fellowship, laughter and a few tasty treats. The stack of wrapping paper in the corner with its bright foils reminds me that I still have packages to wrap and may never actually get to the end of my Christmas list. A sleeping cat rests underneath our Christmas tree that proudly displays ornaments that tell the story of our lives, some ornaments dating back over 100 years. The gentleness of mornings like this is part of the bigger picture that makes up Christmas. While I’ve been looking for that one defining moment, it is actually all around me.
When we go to church Sunday as a family and sneak candy to each other during the sermon, it’s because Christmas brought us all there and those moments are far better than anything wrapped under my tree. The laughter that echoes down the hallway late at night when my children’s friends gather here, that is Christmas. Hearts returning home in celebration of the birth of Christ, that is what makes the season joyous. From foil wrapping paper to Christmas choirs, movies with friends, and laughter around the dinner table, that is my Christmas. Removing the cat from the Christmas tree, trying to build some gift that came with no instructions and making yet another trip to the grocery store for more food, these are the things that all come together to make Christmas grand.
Christmas, today, is not a single moment of pure joy that rises above everything else. It is a series of blessings that come quietly at times and loudly at others. That single perfect moment occurred many years ago when a young woman caught the attention of the world with the birth of her child. That gift came quietly in the night and is the reason for the many moments of joy we find now as we gather with family during the holiday season. Christmas cannot be wrapped up, contained or plotted on a map, as it is a blessing that has carried forward for over 2000 years. It is a season of love that comes with perfection already built in.
As you collapse on that couch you may be quite certain you have not failed to provide your kids with the clarity of Christmas, for here in your words you have found wonder in moments brief, dishes unwashed, cats sleeping, laughs echoing, paper strewn and beliefs shared. Saving those moments divine in your heartfelt prose, and spiritual praise, is a gift of love for your kids far more lasting than those objects found under a tree.
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