I looked at the Christmas tree lights as I turned them on this morning. I wondered why it did not seem the same three days after Christmas as the first time they were turned on before Christmas for the Christmas season. They shine with the same amount of light. The sparkle on the ornaments is beautiful. They light the room with the same glow each time they’re turned on. Hmmnnnnn!!! What is the difference? The physical dimensions of the situations remain the same. Must be me, then. Within my being, there must be a difference in the two situations–pre-Christmas, and post–Christmas.
The Christmas tree is a very visible piece of what has become the ritual of Christmas. The poinsettias, the Christmas cards, the various manger scenes, the Christmas Eve program, the gifts that grow beneath the tree, the cookie baking, shopping for the Christmas dinner, family telephone conversations, hanging the garlands, checking out travel plans for yourself or for those coming to see you, and on and on. And most of all the expectation of it all. Amidst the clutter of the Christmas balls and bells, the shopping malls, and the outdoor lights, is the nagging and tugging at your inner self to remember really what the expectation is about. The nagging voice in your psyche keeps tugging at your soul as you wrap the gifts. Remember, it whispers, what the season is. Remember, it shouts, the greatest gift–the reason for the season. Remember to keep Christ in Christmas. Remember the star so bright that lit up the night. Imagine the expectation on that night–the birth of the Baby Jesus. And how do you wrap that gift?
Now Christmas day is over. It was wonderful. My family was here. All four grandchildren were able to be here. We opened gifts; we cooked and ate wonderful meals together, and yes, we ate dessert when we shouldn’t have. We talked and talked and even played an old-fashioned board game together, an activity filled with joyous family laughter. It’s wonderful to see generational fun away from a piece of technology.
Soon I will plant the poinsettia outside and hope they will grow to be great blobs of red in the California sun Christmas’s to come years from now. The Christmas tree will be carefully dismantled and the precious ornaments put to rest for another year. The ornaments on the “animal tree,” will find their resting place in the box labeled Animal Ornaments. The Santa Claus stuff, the reindeer, the village scenes, the wreaths, and other Christmas decorations will be taken down or dismantled and carefully packed in their homes until next year when they will be assembled again.
But this year when I wrap the manger scenes and the Baby Jesus, I will remember that the greatest gift ever given to me at Christmas was the birth of that manger baby in Bethlehem so long ago. It is the priceless gift that abides in me and has been with me since my birth. It is the gift that never grows old, never tarnishes like my silver does, sparkles like crystal without he sun, and gives me perpetual hope for my journey and beyond. It nourishes me and energizes my soul. It helps me to seek the good in others and to hope that evil subsides. Most of all the Spirit helps me to live a grateful life.
It’s not New Year’s Day yet, but I know what my New Year’s resolution will be: I will not pack the message of the Baby Jesus away until another Christmas. He is the reason for this season and will remain the reason for every season in my life. He will not be just the Spirit of Christmas; he will be the Spirit of every day. I will remember that the wrap that I place around the Baby as I pack the pieces of the creche can no more contain him than the wrap that bound him in the tomb. He is free and available to all.
A Happy New Year with blessings to all.