“Christmas” means different things to different people. To some, it is merely a word. A time of the year that signals a few days away from the office and great sales at the mall. To others, it is a frustrating time of fighting crowds, shoveling the driveway and wrapping gifts. And still, to others, it is a time of reflection on the year that is almost gone – a time of merriment spent with family and friends.
To me, Christmas has always meant family. Christmas was always the one time of the year that I got to see almost every member of my family at least once. It has always been a time of joy, of reconciliation, of peace.
As a child I remember being at Grandma Alice’s house eating her pumpkin bread late into the night and gawking at the gifts that lay under the warmly lit tree. As the gold lights cast an amber glow on our faces, we would crawl on the floor under the tree looking for our presents, only stopping for a short moment to glance at the nativity placed delicately among the trappings. For as long as I could remember, an angel hovered over that holy family with a banner in her arms proclaiming “Gloria”, and since that is my mother’s name, I was sure that angel was there just for us.
As I grew older, Christmas started to become less of a holiday and more of a hectic time for me. My calendar kept me at school functions, at work and with friends nearly every day of the week, and I had little time for family. Christmas was another item on my never ending “to do” list. It never occurred to me that Christmas would ever be any different than what it had always been.
Now Christmas looks very different. We still meet at Grandma Alice’s, but much has changed through the years. The faces of our family have changed. Some have been born, some have passed away. Some have married in, some have divorced out. The rest of us have merely aged. The house is very different as well. The smells in the house have changed. Rooms have been added on. There are many more gifts under the tree.
And yet regardless of all the changes that have taken place and have yet to take place, one fact remains unchanged. Under all the wrapping paper and ribbons. Under all the food and festivities. Under all the hustle and bustle, Christmas is about one thing: the birth of Jesus, our Lord. He lies patiently in a manger under our Christmas tree – amidst the sparkling gifts and the snooping children – waiting for us to remember Him.
“O, holy night, the stars are brightly shining.
It is the night of our dear Savior’s birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining
Til He appeared and the soul felt its worth.
The thrill of hope! The weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn!
Fall on your knees, and hear the angel’s voices!
O Night Divine! O, night, when Christ was born.
O, Night Divine! O, night, o night divine.”