Christmas Eve—for many Christians, it’s the most significant day of the year. If you “do” Christmas for gifts and the joy of celebrating, this may be your night. My family has always opened gifts on Christmas morning, but one son-in-law is used to Christmas Eve, and he moans and schemes and complains every year. If you “do” Christmas out of deep faith, this is the night of watchful waiting for God’s announcement of the gift of Love to mankind. No matter their motive, Christians can’t escape the looming significance of this holiest of nights.
I read something this morning that struck me powerfully though I will never state it as eloquently. Each of us wakes to a different world on Christmas Day-inevitably a part of us goes back to our childhood view, no matter where we are now and where we were then.
So the view from my cottage this morning sweeps down a staircase—so steep! –to a narrow living room wherer a tree is piled high with gifts, some overflowing on the couch next to the tree. My father sits in his chair, my mother in hers, and my older brother on a second couch across the tiny room from the tree. The gifts are for all of us but even I know they are mostly mine. I am the spoiled daughter my father thought he’d never have, My brother’s biological father died several years before I was born, but gifts have come from his family, my father’s family in Canada, and my mother’s family. I am allowed to look at the “out’ gifts—stocking and anything large or spectacular enough to be left just where Santa Claus put it. Then we eat a formal breakfast before tackling the gifts.
And then a few years forward—another tree, more gifts, this time in a larger, grander house with four children—two fair and blonde like me, two dark-headed like their Jewish father though they are mixed race—one Eurasian, one Hispanic. But the ritual is the same—“out” gifts and stockings, then breakfast, and then gifts.
And one more scene—this is a spacious, rustic lodge in the Texas Hill Country. There are seven children and five adults, and the gifts have grown exponentially in number, But the warmth and love and friendship are the same that I’ve known through the years. The story of my life, caught in Christmases.
The mundane always intrudes. The sewer backed up at Colin’s house this morning. I have offered to loan my potty chair but gotten no takers. Between that and being my caretaker, you can tell how Colin has spent Christmas Eve. Tonight he’ll be solaced with Norwegian hamburgers, and we’ll be into another Christmas. Different house, different people, different traditions—but always the same reverence, love, and joy.
Merry Christmas everyone.