Christmas past and Christmas present
As a kid, nothing in life could match the anticipation of those final few hours before bedtime on Christmas Eve. I'd hang my stocking, read "The Night Before Christmas", and leave some snacks for Santa, tremendously excited by the idea of waking up the next morning to find a generous pile of gifts for me under the tree. On the more spritual side of things, I remember joining my parents for Christmas Eve church services many times. Even at a young age, I could sense something special in the air that told me that THIS night was different from all others -- that something wonderful was happening, above and beyond the presents that would be waiting for me at home.
These days, it's unfortunate that so many of us look at Christmas with a "let's get it over with" attitude, something that interferes with our already hectic lives. (Yes, I often count myself among that crowd). There are presents to be purchased, wrapped and mailed; cards to be signed and sent; decorations to put up; kids' activities to attend; meals to plan; family visits to coordinate. It can all be tremendously overwhelming, preventing us from focusing on the spiritual significance of this time of year, and distracting us from finding true joy in the season.
The true Christmas spirit usually doesn't find me until a few days before "the big day". I start to feel it when: the parking garage at work is already half empty when I show up to start my day; when KHYI plays Christmas songs like Willie Nelson singing "the First Noel" or Gene Autry doing "Here Comes Santa Claus"; when mysterious packages begin appearing under our Christmas tree; when I watch certain movies with my kids; when co-workers' cubicles are overflowing with trays of home-baked cookies and snacks; when the kids start bringing home Christmas-themed artwork from school; when we have a strong cold snap or snow during the third week of December; when I slip a few bucks into a Salvation Army collection bowl; when my train crews begin telling me "Merry Christmas" at the end of their last trip before the 25th; when the streets are empty late at night on Christmas Eve.
Here's hoping a little piece of that sense of Christmas magic finds you this year. Take a deep breath, give yourself a well-deserved break from wrapping presents, maybe set aside 90 minutes or so to take in a favorite holiday movie like "A Christmas Story" or "Polar Express" or even "Christmas Vacation". Read "The Night Before Christmas" with your kids. Attend a Christmas Eve church service, and see if your heart doesn't glow with joy during the singing of "Silent Night".
Merry Christmas, everyone. Thanks for reading my blog, and I'll see you again soon.
nr: The General and the Jaguar: Pershing's Hunt for Pancho Villa - Eileen Welsome
np: Asleep at the Wheel - "Choo Choo Ch' Boogie"