Thursday, December 1, 2011

Where are You?

Growing up, this time of year was magical to me. The Advent wreath, the Christmas tree, the decorations, the Advent calendar, the ornaments, the smell of pine, the lights.  Baking, shopping, singing, watching Christmas movies. Snuggling in bed on Christmas Eve while butterflies were dancing in my heart making sleep nearly impossible.  I close my eyes and I can go right back to how I felt at that time.

On Christmas morn I used to wake bright and early with my siblings. Much, much earlier than my parents. We would whisper and talk and watch the clock to see when it would be ok to go down to wake our parents. We would sneak down the stairs to use the bathroom and peek into the family room to see if the stockings were full and the presents were under the tree. When the time came, we would run down the stairs, get our parents up and race to.... our nativity scene. We wanted to see if baby Jesus had come. Then we would tear over to the tree and into our presents.

As I've grown older, my love for this time of year is still there, but it isn't quite the same. Family relationships have changed - some growing stronger, others struggling. The world has picked up its pace. Stores start packing Christmas items on their shelves in October. Radio stations are playing Christmas music before Halloween! My nuclear family has changed: a husband, in-laws, and children are added to the mix. Am I able to keep up? Am I passing down the love and meaning of this season to my children?

Over the last few years I've found myself asking more and more, "Where are you?" Where are you, Jesus? Where are you, Christmas? It takes longer for the spirit of the season to fill my heart and lift me up. It takes longer for the lightness and laughter to penetrate the darkness. However, it does always seem to win out.

Maybe that is a good thing. The weeks before Christmas are a time of waiting, of preparation, of darkness. Christ, the true Light, comes on Christmas morn to fill our hearts with hope, with love.

I reflect on those Christmases of my childhood and they bring me great joy. My prayer is that my children will look back and have warm and happy memories of this time of year. I pray that my children will feel the wonder and awe that this season brings. I pray that our traditions remind them of the love we have for each other.

In the morning as I do my prayers I look over at the nativity scene waiting for Jesus to arrive on Christmas morn. Where are you, Jesus? Where are you, Christmas? Fill us with your music, with your love, with your hope, with your joy. Fill us with your magic. Fill our hearts so completely and beautifully that we always know where to find you in ourselves and in each other.

Let's Keep Christmas
Whatever else be lost among the years,
Let us keep Christmas still a shining thing;
Whatever doubts assial us, or what fears,
Let us hold close one day, remembering
It's poignant meaning for the hearts of men.
Let us get back our childlike faith again.
     Ada V. Hendricks

Faith Hill - Where Are You, Christmas?