It is past midnight, and Old St. Nicholas just passed by. Luckily, we are very good friends, so instead of getting upset I was awake, he sampled some gingerbread cookies and hot apple cider while I showed him my Christmas decor.
“I scaled things back this year,” I admitted, as we stopped in front of the bookcases. “I wanted to do more, but I’ve really been feeling a bit sad and… not myself.”
“Nonsense!” exclaimed he, so boisterously I was afraid he’d wake the neighbors. “You’re forgetting something very important, my dear.”
“And what’s that?”
“Well, just this: that you will never celebrate the same Christmas twice. In spite of all the traditions and rituals, every year leaves a little of itself in your holiday. It is very nice to think about past Christmases—even I have my favorites—but don’t measure up the now to the then. All the things you have managed to do this time, in spite of this year and in spite of yourself, are quite enough.”
This seemed sensible. Still, in a stubborn gloom, I could not help thinking about those past Christmases, as he rode away into the chilly forest sky.
There was that time when I was little and we had all stayed home really ill, but someone gave me the most gorgeous porcelain doll (with a burgundy red dress and brunette curls), which made things better. Or the year when my aunt’s friend’s son showed us Mad Libs for the first time and put us kids in stitches with hilarity. A whole string of Christmas Eve candlelight services flutter by, bittersweet memories in their absence this year. Except that one where they had me play Joseph… now that was silly. I should’ve retired after my first role in preschool: an angel in a white gown with a tinsel halo!
But Christmas is not just for children; you just have to look harder for it these days.
And it shows up… in happy wishes from friends far away. In carols and Baroque strings on the radio. With Santa parades (in spite of the rain and cold!). When neighbors line their tiny deck with multicolored lights. In precious time spent with family, eating and giggling and playing games. And always, in a life spent with Jesus, the Light of the World.
Merry Christmas to all celebrating, and peace to everyone. ❤️
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