December…the magical month…the month of many opportunities. Concerts, shows that remind us of the reason for all the celebrating. Family gatherings, many sweet treats and extra special fixings line the tables. Decorations. Special songs and stories.
Where I come from, we had our own special things that would happen in December. The excitement would build as we anticipated what night Dad would arrive home from work with the Christmas tree in the back of his truck. We never knew when it would be, but appreciated the fact that he would always surprise us. We would spend that evening after dinner decorating the tree, usually while Dan Rather reported the latest world events from the TV. Dad would place the lights and the tree topper, then return to his paper and news, looking up every so often with a smile. Every ornament discussed, a story told as it was hung on the tree. Every piece of tinsel laid "just right", even though the cat was surely to ingest most of it. (Do you know what happens to a cat when it eats tinsel???? Yes. VIVID childhood memories here…)
Throughout the month there were family gatherings with aunts and uncles, cousins and friends. It was certain we would also gather with all the neighbors on the hill to exchange presents and share a meal. There were always Bob's "cathedral window" candies and Gram's variety of cookies. I can remember a neighbor that made "rock candy" only this time of year and would go door to door selling the fancy treat. Interesting, the things I can recall…
Now, as a Mom with my family's own "special things" happening at Christmas time, I can easily find myself dizzied by the shiny, bright options for "special things". There are just so many that go on in the world now. So much more than when I was a kid. There's an Elf. And did you know the Elf now has a dog and his own accessories? Who knew? There are tree lightings with parades and fireworks, visits with Santa and hot cocoa, productions and dinners. There is no longer just ONE kind of candy cane!!! There is also a huge opportunity to reach out and offer a hand to people in need this season of the year with the many fund raisers and on line appeals that can be met with just a click of a mouse. Oh! And let's not forget to mention the endless possibilities for shopping for presents! (Amazon and I have become great friends!)
All of these new, shiny things are wonderful and offer countless options to many. I know some years I have been tempted to "do it all" in the effort to provide a "magical" experience for our kids. But then I realize, in offering these "things", my kids would be missing the most magical experience of it all--that magical experience that happened many, many years ago, in a stable, in Bethlehem. No parade, no lights, no celebration can compare to the arrival of The King--Jesus.
"And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord!"" Luke 2:8-11
All of these "magical" things that are happening around us are wonderful "helps" to remind us of what this time of year is all about. Our family enjoys the presents, the food, the gatherings, the food, the decorating, the lights, oh--and the food. We've had "Santa" visit our house when the kids were younger and I'm certain my youngest son has already consumed a barrel of eggnog on his own this year! Through it all, may we be reminded of the true purpose of Christmas this year. May our vision be clear throughout the glare of the “shiny", and may we find a good "balance" to what special things our families will incorporate into our celebrations. Let us not forget the true purpose of Christmas---and if we have cats, let us remember NOT to use tinsel on our tree. EVER.
"She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus because he will save his people from their sins." Matthew 1:21