Well I'm finally getting around to publishing this post from Christmas Day! I'm either really really early or a little late!
There's a song by Third Day (I Want to Feel Christmas) that really touched my heart early in the Christmas season this year and stayed with me all during the season. It is about feeling Christmas like a child. It touched my heart because it is what I have been seeking for several years. I have been trying to find the wonder and the awe of Christmas that I felt as a child.
I remember one year when I was about eight when we were shopping a few days before Christmas. It was dark and we were leaving a department store in the Buckhead area of Atlanta when I looked up and saw a shining cross floating in the air. It was on the top of a church steeple but I couldn't see the steeple. I still remember the wonder I felt at seeing that bright cross in the night sky. It stirred something deep within me.
There is another memory I have of standing in a circle with my parents and sisters. It was cold and dark and we were singing Silent Night. I remember wondering what a "rounyon" virgin was. I also remember looking up into my mother's face when we sang the words "mother and child" and feeling secure and safe.
I remember Christmas plays, family parties, live nativities, midnight candlelight services and the beautiful evening star (actually the planet Venus) that I always associated with the star of Bethlehem. Christmas was a magical, awe inspiring and wondrous time.
It's funny to me that I remember a great deal about the anticipation of what might be under the tree on Christmas morning but I remember almost nothing about what I actually found under the tree. That tells me that Christmas as a child really wasn't about the gifts. It was more about the wonder of shepherds and angels and wise men and the star and the Christ child. It was about waiting with anticipation for something wonderful to happen.
This year I was determined not to get caught up in the commercialism of Christmas. We went to Pittsburgh to visit my husband's family before Christmas. We saw loved ones we hadn't seen in several years and met new family members. We baked cookies, told stories and played games. We exchanged the most important gifts of all, the gifts of love and laughter and time spent together.
We came home to a house barely decorated and had a lovely little Christmas with very few gifts but lots of yummy food and the gift of family and beloved friends.
A very different Christmas but a very good one indeed!