But I understand the sentiment. I have been so overwhelmed with life that I feel like I'm going through the motions and each thing I do is just another chore to check off. Go to tree farm, check. Decorate house, check. Order gifts, check. Mail gifts, check. Then came the snow, snow and more snow. Shovel, shovel, shovel. When we can't find Christmas, what exactly are we looking for? The magic of childhood fantasies? I have wonderful memories of Christmas. My mother made sure we were happy at Christmas, no matter what else was going on in our family.
The girls were doing their school work in front of the blazing woodstove and I wanted them to finish so I let them off the hook and went out alone to clear snow once more. My car had ice all over it, so I started it up to warm it and the radio was on. Celine Dion was singing "O Holy Night." I turned the music up very loud and grabbed the shovel and got busy on the driveway. It was a divine moment. I found HIM in the unexpected--in the peace of the silent, beautiful snow, in ordinary work. He took the world by surprise when he came long ago.
Fred comes home from work joyful. He still has his tough job. He still has to be on call for snow and often suffers from sleep deprivation. But he came home with a gift card for hoagies (his favorite meal) and he'd found an old radio that he wasn't sure worked. He set it up on the counter and fiddled around with it. It did work, so he was singing and dancing around the kitchen. I wrapped some gifts for our loved ones and wondered if they will like them, anticipating their faces on Christmas morning. Santa Clause 2 is on TV. It's so familiar we can jump in anytime and know what happens next. In the movie, Santa Claus knows the deepest longings of each person. We are each a child at heart, aren't we? The tree lights sparkle tonight and our house is warm. What more could we ask for?
Saturday we have a long-awaited family night. We go out to dinner--what a treat! Again, another gift card. Fred is much appreciated at work. We go to Walmart afterwards and I find the perfect gift I'd been searching for--on sale! We drive around the neighborhood and look at the fantastic light displays and listen to Christmas music in the car. It's tradition! We end up in my old neighborhood. We notice a man walking alone in the dark and realize we know him. Fred stops the car and I roll down the window. His wife, my old friend, has cancer. She is on a course of surgery and chemo. Where are you, Christmas, in this family? We come home and I go to the computer and see the girl in Colorado, shot by a fellow student, has died. No Christmas magic for these families. How can these people walk through the darkness of their lives and find light at the end of the road?
Lord willing, we will have our Christmas in a couple of days. Christmas is surely not about the tasks we do or the gifts we buy. We celebrate our lives, grateful for another year together. We are thankful to God for loving us so much that he provided hope in this painful, sad world by sending us Jesus.
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God...and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us." Jesus said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." (John 1) "The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwell in the land of deep darkness, on them has light shined...for to us a child is born, to us a son is given..." (Isaiah 9) Jesus is God's gift to the world!
Jesus is called Immanuel, "God with us." He promised, "I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you." His last words in Matthew say, "I am with you always, to the end of the age." Our circumstances don't change the fact that he came. Christmas happened. He's here. He is with us. That is why we always have hope.
"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope." (Romans 15) No matter your circumstances.