What I Miss About Christmas (& What I’m Doing About It This Year)
Do you know what I miss? I miss those simple Christmas holidays of childhood. Remember those? We sang Christmas carols and even went “caroling” in the community. We enjoyed the magic of “good ole St. Nick” somehow bringing gifts to everyone in a single night. And we experienced the joy of watching someone’s face light up when WE gave them a gift. I also remember the hugs… oh the hugs. We were engulfed in hugs. And the laughter that rang out throughout the season. In the midst of all these activities, a nativity scene adorned the table and filled my mind with wonder. I often pondered, “All this for a baby born so long ago in a town so far away?”
As I grew, the very tangible hope and joy of the Christmas celebration remained with me. Sometimes I still look at that little Baby, his parents, the shepherds, an angel, and the wise men (yes, they were always at the nativity scene early) and just wonder, ponder the mystery of it all. The hymns and songs and laughter and gifts and food and family are all still there, but I miss the innocence of those childhood Christmases.
I’m not sure the world was any better “back then.” There were wars and protests on the news every night (the Vietnam war and the Cuba Missile Crisis, for example). Leaders were assassinated (MLK & JFK). The end of time was near (or so many “prophets” proclaimed). Nuclear threat loomed as we practiced “what to do” in case of nuclear disaster and watched movies about the fallout of nuclear disaster. Pundits predicted overpopulation and famine as imminent threats. Still, in the midst of it all, there I was with many other young boys and girls, celebrating the magic and mystery of a joyous Christmas.
It reminds me of Jesus’ words. “Unless you become as a little child, you will never enter the Kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself [accepting their lack of knowledge and wondering at mysteries beyond our wildest imaginations] like a child is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven!” This year, I’m choosing to return to “become as a child.” I’m choosing to return to the childhood Christmases I miss, the Christmases of innocence and wonder. How?
First, I’m going to look afresh, with the eyes of a child, at the Child in the manger. I’m going to consider with wonder the amazing gift we’ve been given. I think I’ll listen to Handel’s Messiah: “For unto us a Child a given, unto us a Son is born….” I’ll ponder the marvel at the “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace” all wrapped up in that little Baby lying in a manger. What an amazing love to give up the glories of heaven to take the form of a Baby born in an occupied country to a poor family.
Second, in celebration of that great gift, I will give gifts. The gift of the Child in the manger is so astoundingly generous that I will strive to give generously in return. And I’m going to start with giving of myself, just like that Child in the manger “gave Himself” for us. I’m going to give myself to my family and friends in service. I’ll give my ear to listen. I’ll give my hands to serve and my mouth to encourage. I’ll celebrate by giving myself to others in love.
Third, I’m sharing hugs this year. If you’re around, I might just hug you. It’s Christmas. Jesus spent His life touching others (both metaphorically and literally). I think I’ll do the same. Instead of simply being engulfed in hugs, I might give a hug or two…or three or four. I might even engulf a few people in hugs. After all, we need hugs to thrive.
Fourth, I’m going to sing. I’m singing in the shower, in the car, in my home, with my family, with my friends…. I’m singing all the songs I loved as a child and still do as an adult. Maybe others will join in, and we can sing together. There truly is something about singing that brings people together. It brings us in sync. So I’m singing with everyone who will sing with me.
Know what else, I think I’ll put out some cookies for Santa Claus again this year. We actually put out pizza. We haven’t done it since our children left home for college…but I’m doing it this year. I’m going to enjoy the magic of a mysterious guy dressed in red bringing gifts in the middle of the night. Who knows, while I wait I might “see Mommy kissing Santa Claus.” I might also see a star that shines in the East announcing a new King rising in our hearts.
Will you celebrate the innocence of a childhood Christmas with me this year?