When I was growing up, my parents gave me the greatest gift ever. They taught me that anything was possible, that miracles can happen. How?
The night before Christmas, the house was always just a bit messy. There was a noted lack of expecting much of anything. The annual comments that “Santa was going to miss this house if a certain young lady was not in bed” were also used. The later I was up, the more the comments grew in intensity.
I went to bed every year and stayed there. I had absolutely no interest in disturbing the “magic” by messing with Santa’s routine. I do not know how much I really believed in Santa Claus, but I certainly believed in the awesome wonder that seemed to magically happen Christmas Eve.
When I awoke Christmas mornings, it always seemed to be a wonderland. Everything shined and sparkled.
“The elves have been cleaning again,” my mother would occasionally say. Everything was shiny, clean and simply brilliant. The tree was lit and was always amazing. I would steal a few minutes to myself before disturbing my parents to sit in the wonder of the room. No matter how many presents were really under the tree, they seemed to be everywhere in the room. It was like they exploded out from under the tree.
Even as a child though, my wonderment was mainly reserved for gazing at my mother’s white porcelain nativity set on the mantel. I was not to touch it, because it was so fragile. It came to mean Christmas to me. Nothing was as wonderful as looking at it in the light of the tree on Christmas morning.
I am not sure I can every adequately describe what Christmas morning felt like in our home. It was the warmth of a fresh homemade sugar cookie. It was comfort beyond understanding. It was joy beyond giggles. It was the greatest gift of all my parents could give me.
Following the joy of basking in the tree glow, I would “wake up” my parents. They were always awake from the first moments my little feet hit the floor, but they always did a good job of pretending otherwise.
The phone call to my grandparents was the next move. There were always ready to go. (My grandfather had a habit of rising at 6 a.m. and before to read the Bible. He never skipped unless he was extremely ill, therefore, Christmas Day was no exception.)
They would come over, and we would all begin. I enjoyed handing out the presents, especially when I was old enough to read the labels myself.
It was the greatest time. I really never cared as much what I received as much as the warm feeling of family, of love and incredible hope. That was the greatest gift my parents could ever give me.
As I grew up, those memories and feelings of Christmas sustained me at times I felt abandoned and lost. Those moments kept me focused on family and what I needed to do for my family. Christmas morning memories helped to pull me back to the straight and narrow when I had gone off course. I knew what unconditional love was. I knew what joy was. I knew what love was. I knew and I knew the true meaning of Christmas was the birth of hope in Jesus. While the tag may have said it was from Santa, all I had to do was look at the mantel and be reminded.
Many dark days have I walked this earth. My heart has experienced the blackest of night, but the light of Christmas always managed to prevail. Miracles can happen. Anything is possible because the light has come into the world.
Today you may be experiencing awkward family time. You may be up to your eyes in family drama or you may be experiencing the same kind of magic I did. Either way, his light is there for all. Through Mary’s yes to God, we can experience the awesome light of the Lord for all eternity. We can sweep away the cobwebs of despair, dissatisfaction and disenfranchisement. We can embrace love, light and living instead. May you have a beautiful Christmas. May your hearts be filled with wonder. May the blessing brought forth in a tiny stable reach into your heart today. And may you live a life of Grace Out Loud!