Yes, December 25th has come and gone. Boxes and bags were emptied and stomachs are filled. Although its lights are still turned on daily, our Christmas tree has begun wilting and is in steady decline. My youngest plays with his new toys while my two oldest are eager to “go out” so they can dress up in their newest threads. As always, Christmas day came and went before I was content for it to do so.
Special memories were made that will not soon be forgotten. One of these unexpected blessings came when the wife of my childhood friend made me a snowflake ornament that contained the picture of her recently departed husband. I felt deep pride over the gift and tears streaked my eyes as I hung it underneath the angel atop of our tree. My oldest sister, coming into town to join the family, was a heartfelt delight.
The night before Christmas Eve was memorable when my only daughter asked if we could buy a gift for an impoverished woman who was cleaning tables at a cheap fast-food restaurant we visited. Returning an hour later and watching her transfer her compassion and present brought great satisfaction.
For some unusual reason, I have continuously replayed in my mind the night when my nine year old blurted out from the backseat “MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYBODY.” His unprovoked and heartfelt cheer rang the bell of my happiness.
I will also cherish watching my wife scurry around the house every night to conjure up another clever, witty idea of where to stage our “ELF ON THE SHELF” and my son’s anticipation of finding him. When the sadness sank into the heart of my son that our “ELF”[otherwise named JINGLE] was going back to the North Pole until next year, I felt a sorrow of my own. I couldn’t help but ponder if his innocence and childlike belief in such treasures would no longer be intact by next year. I dread the thought of no longer having a child who believes in Santa or miniature, pointy-eared toy makers. It’s a part of the season and fatherhood I don’t ever want to vanish – even though I know it inevitably will.
Of all my realizations and reflections, the most comforting came Christmas day at 11 a.m. I walked outside and watched something happen I can remember seeing only three other times in my life. Ironically, two of these occurrences have been in the last four years. We were having a white Christmas. Snowflakes that were almost the size of cotton balls were swiftly blowing to the ground and covering everything in their path. I felt Jesus was sculpting the reason for our celebration before my very eyes so I could have a visual of what the holiday was all about. I stood alone and told God I was thankful for the obvious reminder for the reason His son was born 2,000 years ago. I told Him I knew He came to make my scarlet sins as white as snow, to cover up my failures, and make all things new and beautiful. I felt grateful then and still do now.
It’s now days later and suspicious that our Texas snow still remains on the ground. Like December 25th it comes and goes way too quickly. Regardless, Christmas itself will not melt away because the celebration of the King who lives in my Spirit is eternal. It is a joy and peace I will own until I someday experience the new satisfactions that will come when I enter His graceful presence. Celebrating Jesus birth has a beginning for me but it will never have an ending.