By Reba Phelps
There is nothing more joyous to the soul than the beautiful sights and sounds of a Christmas morning with young children. The energy seeping from their pores can be felt from the opposite end of the house, even before they wake. The happy faces while they are ripping open packages combined with the losing of batteries and parts, the mountain of torn up paper and the comparing of gifts with neighborhood kids all make for the perfect pictures and stories to be handed down for generations to come.
I do not remember a Christmas morning that did not include picking our way through a garbage can looking for something inadvertently thrown away.
Also accompanying this madness is a deep feeling of exhaustion. There is normally a month long frenzy of various Christmas parties that turn into late nights. The months of holiday shopping can quickly morph into stressful last minute gifts. The nonstop eating of casseroles from Thanksgiving to Christmas can always cause countless issues for the waistline and scales.
And, what is Christmas without the Christmas Eve church service. This is always my favorite church service of the year. It is simply beautiful with the carefully lit candles and carols being sung. All of this does help mentally prepare one for the manual labor that happens later that night while helping Santa land and unload the sleigh as well as having snacks prepared to serve him and the reindeer.
After the Christmas breakfast is served it was always time to load up the car and head to a relatives house where the day would be spent cherishing the company of loved ones. By the time the sunset had set on Christmas Day it was as if we lived a lifetime in less than forty-eight hours.
There is not much calm to speak of during the hustle and bustle of the holidays when your children are young and you have places to go.
Year by year our Christmases naturally grew a little quieter and quieter. The early morning rambunctiousness was traded for sleeping in and enjoying coffee or hot chocolate with whoever made their way to the living room first. They take a little longer to open gifts and savor the moment. There is still a twinge of excitement, but it is overall just a calm excitement. Peaceful and quiet.
This year, for reasons beyond all of our control our Christmas will even be more calm. There are not many places to go during the holidays this year. Office parties have been cancelled. Christmas concerts are being enjoyed virtually. School programs are either cancelled or moved to a virtual platform. Large family gatherings have been cancelled. Christmas Festival was greatly reduced. But, we still have the bright fireworks to light up the night sky.
It is almost as if everything we would traditionally celebrate this year has been taken and replaced with simplicity. Authentic time in peaceful solitude with immediate families seems to be the common thread of all celebrations in 2020.
Just like when Jesus was born. It was a small crowd in a humble and lowly barn. No modern luxuries to speak of or large crowds. Just a family surrounded by a few farm animals and one bright star to light up the sky. Much like the bright star we will be able to see next week for the first time in 800 years. We can always find a bright spot even in the most difficult of years.
“When they saw the star, they were overjoyed.” – Mathew 2:10